Today, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Secretary of State Jon Husted announced that he will relent and allow Cuyahoga County mail unsolicited absentee ballot requests (as it’s done for years now) to voters in order to prevent overcrowded lines on election day after an unanimous, bipartisan Cuyahoga County Council passed a resolution authorizing the program.

Husted has tried to justify his opposition to large counties sending out unsolicited absentee ballots by arguing that making it easier for such voters in those counties to vote was “unfair” to other voters who didn’t have the benefit of such programs and that all voters should have an “uniform” standard of how to get an absentee vote.  It was total partisan b.s.  The reason Husted and the Republicans in the legislature oppose  these programs is that it helps the Democratic turnout in elections.  In 2010, 47% of the vote in Cuyahoga County was done by “absentee” mailed ballots.  If it were a demographic that tended to vote Republican, say like overseas military personnel, Husted would take an entirely different approach.

Don’t believe me?  Think this is just partisan sniping?

Then how else do you explain the inherent contradiction pointed out by the Columbus Dispatch in which Husted argued it was “unfair” to make it easier for urban voters to vote absentee because such programs break from “uniformity” while at an event to introduce a special program to make it easier for overseas military personnel to vote absentee.  How easy?

Husted held a news conference yesterday to announce his new Military Ready-to-Vote program, in which Ohio servicemen and women could register to vote and request an absentee ballot for all elections in a calendar year using the same form.

They also will be able to track their absentee ballots electronically through an ID number and receive election reminders via email or social-media sites, such as Facebook, and access voting-related information at OhioMilitaryVotes.com.

Does the Secretary of State remind any other Ohio voter to vote through e-mail and social media?  Nope.  Look, I’m not opposed to making it easier for our uniformed armed service people to vote.  But my point is that you can’t do that for military voters but then suggest all other voters must be treated uniformally different from them.  The exception mocks the rule.

And the idea of “uniformity” while sounding egalitarian and “fair,” on the surface is really an impossible and totally unrealistic and undesireable standard when you think about it.  First, the only thing that should be uniform is that each person gets only one vote.  Beyond that, uniformity is an impossible standard that Ohio doesn’t meet outside of the absentee ballot laws anyways.  Depending on where you live, there is still different methods in how ballots are cast in Ohio.  We don’t even have uniformity in how we vote.

I live within walking distance of my precinct.  Most voters probably do not.  Does that mean that I have an unfair advantage in voting?  No, says the law.

Yet, this is the same bogus argument that lead the Ohio General Assembly to ban the practice of mass absentee ballot requests in our urban counties when it rushed HB 194 into law, which former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and Fair Elections Ohio are leading a referendum effort to repeal (AG Mike DeWine recently certified their ballot language.)  Fair Elections Ohio have until September 29th to get the same number of signatures as We Are Ohio needed to qualify for the ballot and because this issue has not gotten nearly as much as attention as SB 5 (and we’re not blameless in this regard), they really need help getting the necessary signatures, so consider volunteering this month for them.

But is allowing large urban counties the ability to encourage a large segment of their voters to vote early to mitigate large waiting lines on election day fair?  If only there was some method of deciding such a matter… to litigation the issue in say, a court of law, and not the court of political opinion.

Oh, wait.  That totally has already happened.

You see, apparently the entire Ohio media conveniently forgot that in September 2010 a group of four rural Republicans tried challenging Ohio’s absentee ballot laws that permitted large, urban counties (actually any county, but only the largest counties ever elected to do so) from sending out unsolicited absentee ballot requests.

And a federal judge heard their arguments that making it easier for urban voters to cast absentee ballots was so unfair it violated the equal protection and due process clause of the federal constitution.  And the federal judge rejected their claims soundly.  How soundly?  They didn’t appeal and eventually dismissed their suit with no settlement.

US District Court-Southern District of Ohio Ruling

There’s nothing wrong, unconstitutional, unfair, unjust about making it easier for people to vote.  Jon Husted is just wrong morally and legally. 

The  premise of HB 194’s absentee ballot restrictions is based on arguments already laughed out of federal court.

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  • Now it’s time for Franklin County to find a way to do the same or something similar to CC.  What’s to stop the FCDP from soliciting funds from individuals to pay the costs of sending out absentees to all registered Dems (and even Indies) if the FCBOE can’t or won’t do it?…Jim, Columbus  

  • Now it’s time for Franklin County to find a way to do the same or something similar to CC.  What’s to stop the FCDP from soliciting funds from individuals to pay the costs of sending out absentees to all registered Dems (and even Indies) if the FCBOE can’t or won’t do it?…Jim, Columbus  

  • Guest

    Plunderbund The best journalism in Ohio.  Thank goodness I got rid of the Dispatch.  the healing begins as soon as you cancel your subscriptionnto the Dispatch.

  • Man your reading comprehension has hit rock bottom!

  • Anonymous

    Because of the way the law is written, counties can’t even send out notices to POLL WORKERS, many of whom do not work in their own precincts and therefore, have no opportunity to vote on Election Day and must vote absentee if they want to vote at all.

  • Modern Esquire

    You’re right, that was an incredibly stupid thing for you to say, but we’ve given up expecting any better from you.

    You can’t have “uniformity” with exceptions.  That is an inherent contradiction in terms.  Therefore, you have to ask, as the federal court did, does Ohio’s laws regarding absentee ballots have a rational basis to permit some, but not require all, to send out unsolicited absentee ballot requests.  The court found that it did, therefore, there is nothing “unfair” about it.  At least, nothing about it that makes it more unfair than, say, having the Secretary of State’s office use e-mails and social media to remind uniformed armed service folks stationed overseas to vote, even though the office does not track any other potential voter any other way.

  • Anonymous

    You know what? Military are not the only people who are “serving our nation” and we need to get over this brainless worship of the military. There are many equally noble ways of “serving the nation,” and all deserve the same consideration when it comes to voting.  If the state can send electronic voting reminders to people in the military, why can’t they do this for anyone who signs up? The cost would be minimal and it’s a great idea. This special consideration for military has nothing to do with their status; it’s all about the likelihood that they will vote Republican. 

  • Anonymous

    But I think it should. It would be an easy and forward-thinking thing to do.

  • Modern Esquire

    Sorry, Anastasia, you think what should?  I didn’t follow.  Did you mean you think the Ohio Secretary of State should track every voter and remind them to vote?

  • You don’t know me.  Please don’t guess.

  • Anonymous

    I meant that every voter should have the option to sign up for email alerts on upcoming  elections. It would also be a great way to inform voters of any changes in voting locations. As more and more people communicate online, it would be a great way to expand inclusion. Unless, of course, that is not your goal.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, rightie, but being in the military ISN’T “special.” It’s one of MANY ways to serve your country. And nothing about it makes them entitled to anything beyond being able, if they request it, to receive their ballots in the mail.

    By the way, your recollection and understanding of what happened in Florida in 2000 is extremely shaky. No one was “clamoring for a constitutional crisis” over the butterfly ballots, even though it was manifestly clear those votes were mistakenly cast because of poorly designed ballots.  And there was no “erroneous” use of the term disenfranchised; people were blatantly disenfranchised in very obvious ways like cutting them from the voter roles because they shared a common name with a felon. But that wasn’t the Constitutional crisis either.

    The Constitutional crisis was the shutdown of the vote recount, thanks to the violent and criminal behavior of young Republican thugs, and the Supreme Court’s extremely anomalous and erroneous decision that a recount could not continue, even despite the fact that the margin of victory was so close that in many locales a recount would be automatically indicated. It was a classic situation in which a careful recount was indicated and the Supreme Court barred that. If the shoe had been on the other foot, they likely would have required it. (anyone remember the Norm Coleman-Al Franken dust-up in Minnesota? You righties considered THAT righteous).

    Ultimately, an informal and nonbinding recount of Florida WAS done by a media consortium who recounted ONLY the legally certifed ballots – no butterfly ballots, people prevented from voting, mismarked ballots or anything like that figured in. What they found was that if the nine counties requested by Al Gore had been recounted, the 534-vote margin by which Bush carried Florida would have shrunk in half. And, as the media headlined their stories, Bush was still the winner. The problem was that if a recount of nine counties shrunk the lead so drastically, it almost certainly would have triggered a statewide recount. And their statewide recount of JUST legally certified ballots  found that Al Gore was the winner. They buried that info, afraid of post 9/11 blowback.

    The Consitutional crisis was — and is – that an unelected President was seated. And we cotinue to pay for that in so many ways.

  • Anonymous

    “We, of course, were just being racists by pointing out the very same things you say here to defend your position.”  The only person talking about you being racist is, well, you.  Defensive much?

    Yet again, you fail basic reasoning.  The butterfly ballot was an issue because it was a confusing format that led Jewish voters in South Palm Beach to go for Buchanan, something even Buchanan publicly said had to be a mistake.

    Opening up the process to make it easier for voters to vote is not unfair, and it’s hypocritical for you and Husted to sit there and say that your opposition to absentee ballot programs done in mostly the urban counties is unfair because it doesn’t treat voters uniformally while at an event to announce a new program that DOESN’T TREAT ALL VOTERS UNIFORMALLY.

    People were “disenfranchised” in Florida because thousands of voters had been ILLEGALLY removed from the voter registration rolls, not informed, and thus, denied the ability to vote. http://newstandardnews.net/content/index.cfm/items/332

    If you’re going to comment on something here, do us the courtesy of actually knowing something about the topic for once.  It’s better for you to sit in silence and allow people to think you may be a fool than for you to open your mouth and prove it.

  • Anonymous

    Nothing in the law prevents the people in Cochocton from having the same program.  There’s nothing unequal about it.  It’s been legally challenged and rejected.   Perhaps you should actually read the post you’re commenting on?

  • Anonymous

    Doesn’t it allow you to download in .pdf?

  • Anonymous

    Oh great, Swamp Creature is back!  How are things going in your mud hut behind the Columbus Gang Of Pirates HQ?  So when is that wizard going to get back with you about that brain?

  • Adrienne

    Leave it to the R’s to try to bring back Jim Crow and expand it to everyone who doesn’t vote for R’s.

    We already have a problem with many people not voting, why make it harder? Voting is not exclusive to R’s. My parents moved to Ohio for economic opportunity and to vote before I was born. Leave it to the R’s to try to rob my parents and me of my birthright, again. 

    R’s are evil until proven otherwise.  

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