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My name is State Representative John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) and I’m a legislator near Youngstown. I’m also a C-130 pilot who returned from my last rotation a few weeks ago in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, and my unit will be demobilized this month.
As I return to the Statehouse and my legislative duties, I’m so disgusted to be met with the majority party’s answer for election reform. I flew the Iraqi Governing Council, members of our military who specialize in International Elections, and private groups who were fighting to ensure there were fair and safe elections in Iraq and the Middle East. Little did I know that upon my return we would have to fight for fair and safe elections here in the Midwest.
Is it ironic that we would spend so much time and money ensuring Iraqis’ had the unfettered opportunity to vote, yet we would create barriers to access Democracy here in the U.S.?
We flew election ballots into Baghdad under armed guards, yet after reading The Conyers Report “What Went Wrong in Ohio” by Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan), it appears that there were systemic problems with ensuring the safety and integrity of our own voting processes.
The legislation floating through the General Assembly is designed to frustrate and selectively disenfranchise citizens in this state from voting.
For example, my 82 year old great aunt votes regularly, and she doesn’t drive nor does she have a state driver’s license. She will be restricted from voting if this legislation passes because she doesn’t have a driver’s license or another picture ID. Even if she did have a license, if she had to move to a nursing home and her address didn’t match the license, she would be unable to cast a provisional ballot. Worse yet, if she became disabled and couldn’t sign her own name at the local board of elections, she would have to execute a power of attorney in order to vote.
Funny thing – all the Iraqis had to do was dip their finger in ink.
I put my life on the line and went to Iraq because my country asked me too, and the very freedoms we are attempting to deliver in Iraq are being challenged here in Ohio.
The Republican candidate for Secretary of State Representative Jim Trakas said that “Democracy shouldn’t be easy,” during the Ohio House debate on election reform. It is clear to me that if we don’t stand up and fight for our own freedoms and rights, they will erode slowly by apathy created from a sense of inability to change our political landscape.
I will fight this legislation and any other attempt to restrict our freedoms and I need your help too.
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