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Tag: Ohio

The Fourth Time is the Charm: Ohio Voters Implement a Bipartisan Redistricting Commission

By: Kelsey Carpenter

On Election Day 2015, Ohio voters implemented ballot initiative Issue 1. This initiative creates a bipartisan redistricting commission to draw the state legislative district lines following the 2020 census, as opposed to the current system that allows the majority party to elect five partisan members to the redistricting commission. According to Issue 1, a seven-member panel that includes representatives from both the majority and minority parties will redraw the lines. The redistricting plan will pass for four years if four members of the panel accept the lines, while it will last for ten years if at least two of those votes come from members of the minority party. It is an interesting plan that attempts to eliminate partisan politics by incentivizing bipartisanship and cooperation.

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Ballot Initiatives for Marijuana Legalization Track Public Opinion

By Hannah Whiteker

Fans of direct democracy should be excited about the increased use of state ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana use. Direct democracy  allows citizens to enact and change laws, instead of electing representatives to make important decisions for them. One of the ways that the United States utilizes direct democracy is through state ballot initiatives. If a group of voters wants to get an initiative on the ballot to pass a law in their state (there is no initiative process for federal elections), the group must first get enough voters to sign a petition supporting the initiative. The number of signatures required varies by state. If the group satisfies the signature requirement, the initiative is put on the ballot for the next statewide election to be voted on by the people.

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California’s Law Against Fraudulent Accusations of Voter Ineligibility: Valuable Protection or Unnecessary Remedy?

By Geoff Tucker

When it comes to voter protection, California has a unique law in place: California Election Code § 18543(a) provides that, without probable cause, it is a felony to attempt to prevent people from voting by insinuating that they are ineligible to vote. While this type of law has also been considered by Ohio, California remains the only state with this type of voter protection. The question, however, is whether such a law is necessary or practically useful. 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

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

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