Archive for October, 2012

Rep. Clyde Disappointed in Appeal of Voter-Friendly Ruling

This week, a federal district court ordered Boards of Elections to count provisional ballots that are cast in the wrong precinct due to poll worker error.   Secretary Husted has announced he will appeal the decision to count votes.

“I am very disappointed that the Secretary of State wants to allow poll worker error to cause ballots to be thrown out.  Punishing the voters for poll worker error is voter suppression that violates our rights to due process and equal protection of the laws.  The Secretary of State is trying to paint this decision as allowing voters to vote anywhere in their county.  That is not true.  Only ballots cast in the wrong prescient due to poll worker error will be counted,” said Rep. Kathleen Clyde. 

In August, the district court shut down Secretary Husted’s effort to throw out provisional ballots that might be cast in the right polling place but wrong precinct due to poll worker error.  The State appealed and the Sixth Circuit agreed that disqualifying such ballots would violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection of the laws. After further lower court proceedings clarifying that ballots cast in the wrong polling place and wrong precinct must also count, Secretary Husted is appealing the order to count votes.  Over 14,000 provisional ballots were rejected in 2008 because they were cast in the wrong precinct. 

Rep. Clyde said, “Secretary Husted’s website does not even have a search tool for voters who have moved to find their new polling place.  But he seeks to throw out their ballots if they guess wrong or rely on the mistaken advice of a poll worker.  That is not fair and I’m confident the Court will protect these voters.”



State Rep. Alicia Reece Applauds Decision of Federal Court to Count Provisional Ballots

State Representative Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) of the 33rd House District, applauded the decision issued yesterday by United States District Court Judge Algenon L. Marbley ordering that provisional ballots cast in the wrong polling location must be counted. Earlier this month, the decision to count provisional ballots cast in the right polling location, but wrong precinct, known as “right church, wrong pew” ballots, was upheld. This newest ruling takes voter protection a step further by also counting “wrong church, wrong pew” ballots.

State Rep. Alicia Reece (D- Cincinnati), who introduced H.B. 76 (“Count the Votes” Bill) in February of 2011, released the following statement:

“While I am saddened that the Ohio General Assembly did not pass legislation to count provisional ballots where poll-worker error occurred, I am pleased the federal court has ruled to ensure the votes of Ohioans are fairly counted. This decision is a victory for voter’s rights and for the voters of Ohio. I would urge the State of Ohio not to appeal this decision and to restore the integrity of our voting process.”

State Rep. Alicia Reece Applauds Removal of Voter Intimidation Billboards

State Representative Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) applauded the agreement between Norton Outdoor Advertising and the anonymous family foundation responsible for the “VOTER FRAUD” ad campaign in Ohio to remove voter intimidation billboards in the Cincinnati area.

Representative Reece held a press conference last week with area clergy and community leaders demanding the billboards be removed in Cincinnati and across Ohio. Clear Channel announced they would begin removing the billboards in Cleveland and Columbus on Saturday. Yesterday, Rep. Reece asked Norton Outdoor Advertising for their help getting the signs removed in Cincinnati as well.

“I commend Norton Outdoor Advertising for doing the right thing today by removing these billboards,” said Rep. Reece who lives in one of the neighborhoods where the billboards were placed.


Rep. Hagan Moves to Ban Sports Blackouts

State Representative Robert F. Hagan announced today that he has introduced a bill to ban professional sports organizations from ‘blacking out’ televised broadcasts. Teams that play in stadiums partially or fully funded with public dollars would be prohibited from engaging in the practice.

Ohio taxpayers have spent over $600 million on building two stadiums for the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals alone. Both cities and their respective counties continue to struggle to meet the obligations of their original lease agreements and other contracts related to these structures.

“Ohio’s taxpayers have helped finance many of the pro-sports stadiums and arenas in Ohio and should be able to enjoy the entertainment for which they paid, whether in the stadium itself or from the comfort of their own home,” Rep. Hagan said.

The legislation, House Bill 599, will prohibit any pro-sports team that regularly plays in a stadium built with taxpayers’ dollars from approving a contract that allows televised “black outs.” Any team’s management that violates this law would be legally compelled to pay back the state, county, or other political subdivision an amount equal to what was originally financed by the public for the arena or stadium. 

“Unfortunately, federal regulations seem to condone the ‘black out’ policies currently in place,” Rep. Hagan said. “Though a state law prohibiting the practice could draw legal challenges, I would welcome such a debate on an issue that Ohio’s taxpayers – and sports fans – find important.”

Professional sports organizations often “black out,” or restrict televised access for, sporting events due to a minimum ticket sales threshold not being met.


Reps. Lundy & Gerberry Introduce Bill to Requiring Public Input on Possible Outsourcing of Turnpike

State Reps. Matt Lundy (D- Elyria) and Ronald V. Gerberry (D- Austintown) will soon be introducing legislation to require the Ohio Turnpike Commission to hold four public hearings within three months of the bill being enacted on the issue of outsourcing the maintenance and operation of the Ohio Turnpike. The public hearings would be held in geographically diverse locations in the state that are within the immediate vicinity of the Ohio Turnpike.

“Ohioans in communities all along the Turnpike are outraged at the Governor’s apparent plan to privatize the Turnpike without even allowing for public input,” said Rep. Lundy.  “The turnpike has created jobs for many in the local communities surrounding it throughout the years, helping to support the local economy. Privatizing the Turnpike could cost jobs, hurting those very same communities.”

The bill would also amend and repeal certain sections of the Revised Code to eliminate the authority of the Director of Budget Management and the Director of Transportation in regard to Ohio Turnpike-related outsourcing contracts.  

“The residents of northern Ohio helped finance this incredibly valuable asset and giving up ownership in any manner is wrong. Selling off Ohio assets for one time money is clearly not the right direction for our great state,” said Rep. Gerberry. “Ohioans deserve better leadership and a Governor who will listen to their needs and concerns.”

Furthermore, upon the conclusion of the last hearing, the Commission shall compile any materials submitted to it during the hearings and prepare a report that summarizes the comments of persons who appeared at the hearings. The Commission shall present the report to the Governor and the presiding officers and minority leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives not later than thirty days after the date of the last hearing.

“We need to look no further than to our neighbors in Indiana to see what will happen if we privatize the Ohio Turnpike,” said Rep. Lundy. “Indiana struck a $3.8 billion, 75-year lease deal with a foreign vendor for its 151-mile toll road. In the five years since the lease, tolls have more than doubled, maintenance of the road and rest areas has deteriorated greatly, and now the foreign company that leased the turnpike is in danger of defaulting on their loans.”

Gov. Kasich is seeking to privatize the Ohio Turnpike for 50 years at an estimated $3 billion. This one-time cash infusion would cost the state a valuable source of annual revenue.  The revenue from a potential privately run Turnpike could also leave the state, as many private operators are based on Wall Street or overseas. The Ohio Turnpike has helped support local economies for years by creating and maintaining jobs.  Communities fear privatization will cause drastic increases in toll costs, and the 241 mile road that stretches Northeast Ohio—through the Snowbelt—will not be as well maintained.


State Rep. Nancy Garland Named Legislator of The Year

State Representative Nancy Garland was awarded as the Legislator of the Year today from the Governor’s Council on People with Disabilities. This honor was given to her at a ceremony this afternoon at the Ohio Statehouse.

“I am honored to accept this award from the Governor’s Council on People with Disabilities,” Rep. Garland said. “As a mother of a severely hearing impaired daughter, I know the challenges people with disabilities and their families face. I am particularly proud of the work that we have done to provide insurance to people with autism which will hopefully come to fruition this year. Legislation to require insurance to cover prosthetics has not passed, but I hope the next legislature will see fit to pass such legislation.”

Rep. Garland said she wanted to recognize the amazing advocates for people with disabilities who inspire her everyday, especially a constituent, Bob Thurman, who serves on the Council on People with Disabilities. Bob, who is now a double amputee, is the person who brought the prosthetics issue to Rep. Garland. It is because of his passion and the passion of other people like Bob that Rep. Garland will continue to fight to ensure Ohio is a state that supports people with disabilities. “It is only through commitment and dedication that we can foster and environment of equality and opportunity for everyone,” Rep. Garland insisted.

As a State Representative, Rep. Garland has introduced legislation that will prohibit health insurance companies from denying claims of children with Autism Spector Disorders, and a bill that would require insurance to cover prosthetics.    

Ohio House Democrats Praise U.S. Supreme Court Decision on Final 3 Days of Early Voting

COLUMBUS – The U.S. Supreme Court refused to overturn lower court rulings reinstating the final 3 days of early voting.  Last week, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal district court order to reinstate the 3 busiest days of early voting for all Ohioans. The Sixth Circuit held that the State did not have a good reason for taking away voting opportunities from non-military or overseas voters and that doing so was unconstitutional.  The court said the local boards of elections may allow all voters to vote during Saturday, November 3, 2012; Sunday, November 4, 2012; and Monday, November 5, 2012.  Secretary Husted tried to appeal the Sixth Circuit’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court which today refused to take up the appeal. 

In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of his appeal, the Secretary of State issued a directive ordering Boards to have early voting Saturday, Nov. 3 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 4 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 5 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Rep. Clyde released the following statement:

“I am very pleased that Ohio voters will again be able to vote on the final 3 days before the election as they were able to in 2008.  Despite Secretary Husted’s repeated attempts to block voting on these three important days, the United States Supreme Court sided with Ohio voters today.  With this important decision, we finally have certainty about what the early voting hours are.  We must now shift our focus to educating voters about the early voting schedule and what their rights are at the polls.”

Rep. Stinziano released the following statement:

“I applaud The Supreme Court’s decision rejecting Secretary of State Husted’s appeal involving the restriction of early in-person voting hours during the final three days before Election Day.

“This ruling is a win for all of the voters of Ohio and I’m pleased that the Court affirmed the ruling to restore the franchise of voting rights during the last few days of early voting. Ohioans will continue to have every opportunity to cast their ballot when it is convenient for them, including the last few days before Election Day, when unplanned conflicts can arise and where past elections have shown a demand.

“As the former Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, I have seen and experienced firsthand the importance of an efficient early voting period including these last few days.  In 2008, roughly 93,000 voters appeared at their early vote center during the last three days of early voting prior to Election Day.  Today’s ruling provides for an even smoother Election Day and affirms the votes of the many boards of elections who felt weekend hours were needed for proper election administration. All Ohioans should truly be pleased.”

Rep. Reece issued the following statement:

“It is unfortunate that we had to depend on the federal court to do what the State refused to do.  This is a major win for the voters of Ohio. The court decision could impact almost 93,000 Ohioans who took advantage of voting during those days in 2008. I am glad the matter has finally been put to rest in favor of Ohio voters and confusion over the issue has ended with the last 3 days reinstated.”

State Rep. Sandra Williams released the following statement:

“I applaud the US Supreme Court’s decision rejecting Husted’s appeal to eliminate the last three days of early in-person voting.  Upholding the decision of the lower courts only reaffirms that Husted’s previous directive was unconstitutional. 

“I am pleased that all Ohioans will have full access to the polls.  The last three days allows for greater flexibility and increased opportunities for citizens to cast their ballots.  While this is a big win for the people of Ohio, I want to encourage everyone to continue taking advantage of the in-person early voting hours.  Don’t wait for the last three days if you don’t have to.”

Rep. Teresa Fedor issued the following statement:

“This decision should reassure Ohio’s voters that the courts are not interested in helping state Republicans with their voter suppression agenda.  The highest court in the land has upheld early voting on the final 3 days before the election which will help us have a smooth election in which every voter’s voice is heard.  With this decision, veteran voters, elderly voters, student voters, minority voters, all voters will be welcomed back to the polls on the final 3 days before the election.”


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