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Category: Ohio (page 2 of 4)

The Battleground 2012: A Conversation with Former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner

by Allison Handler

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on October 8, 2012.

Jennifer Brunner was elected in 2006 and served a term as Ohio’s first female Secretary of State. During that time, she oversaw the contentious 2008 presidential election and implemented voting practices that allowed a record turnout of voters to cast their ballots. In 2010, she ran in the primary election for the United States Senate. She currently practices law in Columbus and is the author of a new book, “Cupcakes and Courage”. Continue reading

The Battleground 2012: Who Gets to Vote When? Ohio Election Rules Have a Smaller Effect at the Local Level

by Elizabeth Herron

In a swing state like Ohio, who gets to vote and when is critical. This is evidenced by the recent controversy in the state about early voting restrictions. The disagreement has two main issues – special accommodations for members of the military, and the elimination of early voting three days before Election Day. These two issues are connected, as members of the military and civilians overseas would technically have been allowed to vote during the three day period United States-based Ohioans would be barred from early voting.

Proponents of the early voting restrictions claim that they are necessary in order to provide election officials time to update voting records and prevent voter fraud.  Opponents argue that they are arbitrary and disproportionately affect low-income and minority voters. This issue caught national media attention when the Obama and Romney campaigns took oppositional positions on the matter. An Ohio District Court judge found the restrictions a violation of the equal protection clause. Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine quickly announced his decision to appeal the matter to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with the lower court. The Supreme Court declined to block early voting. This issue has ended for now, though others press on. Continue reading

Changes Afoot in Ohio: A Conversation with Jennifer Brunner

By Allison Handler

Jennifer Brunner was elected in 2006 and served a term as Ohio’s first female Secretary of State. During that time, she oversaw the contentious 2008 presidential election and implemented voting practices that allowed a record turnout of voters to cast their ballots. In 2010, she ran in the primary election for the United States Senate. She currently practices law in Columbus and is the author of a new book, “Cupcakes and Courage”.

Ohio is facing several voting-related challenges this election cycle, from early voting to provisional ballot disputes. What are some other election practices that worry you?

Jon Husted recently issued a directive that if someone fills in the wrong information on an absentee ballot, the only way the voter can be reached regarding the mistake is through a letter in the mail. Even if the voter gets notice of the mistake in time to correct it before the election, they can only make the correction by filling out a specific form.

The priority instead should be to make sure everyone’s vote counts. What if there is a mistake then made on the form? Of course it is important to get the correct information. But there are so many pitfalls to correcting mistakes by mail with tight deadlines. And now the only way to notify voters of mistakes is by mail, so there will likely be many mistakes that may not be corrected and may prevent votes from being counted. Husted would have been better doing nothing than issuing that directive. Continue reading

News Brief: A Fox in the Henhouse

by Allison Handler

Though Ohio’s U.S. House district lines have been approved since September, it was not until February 17th that the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that those lines would remain in place for the 2012 elections. Much controversy has surrounded the lines, with claims from Democrats that the redistricting map was gerrymandered to favor the GOP. John Husted, Ohio Secretary of State, has called the state’s line-drawing system “partisan and dysfunctional.” Nevertheless, the Supreme Court based its ruling on timing; the Democrats “unreasonably delayed” the filing of their suit until 96 days after the districts had already been approved.

The redistricting scheme has famously left two veteran liberal incumbents running against each other: Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich. In addition to this high profile contest, the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting said the new map, developed last year when Republicans controlled four of the five seats of the Apportionment Board, reduces the number of competitive legislative districts and increases the number of safe Republican districts.

With primary elections only two weeks away, a Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Democrats would have required postponed elections. Logistically, the doubt cast over the redistricting lines has led to some insecurity among candidates regarding where exactly they should be campaigning. Such controversies will be put aside for the upcoming primary, but the Supreme Court has agreed to evaluate the district map again for future elections. The lawsuit charged that GOP line drawing violated Article 11 of the state constitution, which requires that the districts be compact and contiguous and that local units of government not be split unnecessarily. The map divides 51 counties, 108 townships, 55 cities and 41 wards for a total of 255 divisions, according to the lawsuit.

The experience has prompted several advocacy organizations, like the League of Women Voters of Ohio and Common Cause Ohio, to band together in coalition to improve the way Ohio draws its districts. Known as Voters First Ohio, the group aims to create, by ballot drive, the Ohio Independent Redistricting Commission. The Commission would be charged with drawing lines for the 2014 election. This plan is meant to assuage some of the damage done by the 2011 redistricting in time to affect elections prior to 2021, when the state will undergo redistricting again after the next census.

“The [2011] plan was secretly drawn, the public hearings were a sham and it’s very clear that the sole goal was to maximize partisan advantage,” said Ohio State University Moritz College of Law Professor Daniel Tokaji, one of the leaders of the coalition. “It was the exact opposite of a fair process — you’d be hard-pressed to find a place where the process or end product was uglier than Ohio.”

Allison Handler is a first-year law student at William & Mary.


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OH (voter id): Interview with former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner

by Lindsay Bouffard

One spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party characterized House Bill 194 as being about fairness between rural and suburban counties rather than being about Republicans and Democrats. Do you think this characterization is accurate?

House Bill 194 covers much more than a simple distinction between rural and suburban counties.  The aspects of the bill going to voters for referendum have much more to do with curtailing access to voting and making it harder for votes to be counted. The bill as it was originally written by a bipartisan team during my administration in the last legislative session had many provisions that were much more favorable to improving voting, but many of these provisions are no longer in the bill.

If voters choose to repeal House Bill 194 in the November 2012 election, do you foresee legislators trying to pass a similar bill at another time? Continue reading

All States (motor-voter): The voting poor

by Patrick Genova

Initiatives aimed at registering poor Americans to vote is un-American, or at least that is the conjecture Matthew Vadum made early last month in a controversial article published by American Thinker. Vadum, the author of Subversion, Inc. and Senior Editor for the non-profit watchdog group Capital Research Center, argues that leftist groups are trying to use the poor as a “battering ram” to advance redistributionist policies. The poor masses, Vadum suggests, are the tools with which Obama and like-minded organizations plan to drag America further from small government ideals. Vadum essentially asserts that voter registration is infringing on his American Dream.

The progressive radio host Thom Hartmann went toe-to-toe with Vadum shortly after the article was released. On the Thom Hartmann Program Vadum defended the views he put forward in the article arguing that, given the chance, welfare recipients would vote for their own interests. Hartmann, expressing concern for the one in seven Americans below the poverty line, argued that everyone, not just the poor, votes for their own interests. Vadum had no substantive response to Hartmann’s prodding.

Continue reading

Updating Voter Registration in Ohio: Online is Easier

What can’t you do online nowadays? The government lets us use the internet to pay parking tickets, and several states even allow its residents to renew their driver’s licenses online, so why not update voter registration online too? That is exactly what House Bill 194 will allow Ohioans to do. Continue reading

Redistricting Bloodbath Brewing in Ohio

After the 2010 midterm elections, one thing is certain: Ohio will be dripping red in 2011. Why, you ask? It looks like redistricting is going to be a bloodbath!

On election day,  Republicans won thirteen of Ohio’s eighteen U.S. House seats (taking five from the Democrats), recaptured the governor’s mansion, and took total control of the  General Assembly. While the 2010 election was pretty good to the GOP, the 2010 Census won’t be nearly as kind to Ohio. Preliminary results released by the Census Bureau indicate that Ohio is set to lose two of its House seats, and given the partisan nature of redistricting in Ohio, a lot of politicians are about to be put in awkward positions. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

Secretary of State indicted for voter fraud: Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White was indicted by a grand jury Thursday on three counts of voter fraud, among seven felony charges. Although the Governor and the former Secretary of State have called for White to step down, he has declined to do so.

Ohio wants to go high-tech: Ohio’s Secretary of State Jon Husted wants to create an online voter registration system, one of several changes advocated for in advance of the 2012 election. The system, which would require a valid driver’s license or state identification card, would also allow voters to update their address online as well, making the process more convenient.

Rutgers professor may have the last word on New Jersey redistricting: After the 10-member committee to redraw the map of New Jersey for state districts failed to meet their Thursday deadline, state Supreme Court Justice Stuart Rabner appointed an 11th tie-breaking member to the committee, Rutgers public policy professor Alan Rosenthal. Rosenthal was appointed after both parties recommended him.

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Defenders of Democracy: The Role of Secretaries of State as Chief Election Officers

This symposium panel will focus on the critical role a secretary of state plays in securing our democratic process. We will discuss bridging the gap between political theory and election reality and what it really takes to ensure the integrity of an election. While each state has laws that govern the execution of an election, it is up to the state’s chief election officer to add detail where only broad strokes exist. Panelists will share their insight into specific areas in which secretaries of state have been particularly active in running elections, from voter registration and voting machines to recounts and provisional ballots.

The symposium takes place on Tuesday, February 15 from 12:50 to 1:50 in Room 127 at William & Mary School of Law.

Panel will be moderated by Law School Dean Davison M. Douglas. Participants include former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, current president of the National Association of Secretaries of State.

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