Republican-written ballot language for Issue 2 is so flawed that good government groups asked the Ohio Supreme Court to disallow it because it will “mislead, deceive or defraud the voters.”
Voters First, which supports a YES vote on Issue 2, filed the suit today, taking allegations of voter suppression from the court of public opinion to the state’s highest tribunal.
The language was approved on a party-line vote by the Ohio Ballot Board, which is chaired by Secretary of State Jon Husted. It makess no mention of the Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission, the official name of the bi-partisan panel that would give citizens the chance to draw legislative and congressional district boundaries and end the practice of allowing politicians to draw their own districts.
Also missing from the ballot language is any reference to an integral part of the proposal: a requirement that the Commission come up with districts that are competitive and reflect Ohio’s political balance.
Today’s system allows the party in power – the Republicans this time – to draw boundaries designed to create as many “safe” GOP districts as possible. That is why Ohio is home to near equal percentages of Democrats and Republicans but Republicans have a lopsided advantage in Congress and the Ohio House and Ohio Senate.
The lawsuit asks the high court to do one of three things:
- Adopt the language submitted by Voters First but rejected by the ballot board
- Order the board to re-convene and draft fair and accurate language
- Write fair and accurate ballot language of their own
“The Ohio Ballot Board is required to give voters a fair and informative summary of the issues they’re deciding. On Issue 2, the ballot board failed to do its job,” said Voters First spokeswoman Sandy Theis.
And the suit suggests that Husted – a former House Speaker – intentionally wrote ballot language to aid the defeat of Issue 2 and keep his party in power.
Husted has been an outspoken critic of Issue 2 and controversy over his handling of it and other politically charged matters continues to mount.
Husted suspended both Democrats on the Montgomery County Board of Elections after they refused to back down from efforts to increase access to voting, according the Dayton Daily News. He temporarily reinstated them until he receives a recommendation from hearing officer Jon Allison – who also happens to have been chief of staff under Gov. Bob Taft, a Republican.
Officials in other counties are following Montgomery County’s lead.
Husted first drew fire when he restricted county boards of election to weekday voting hours. He justified the move by saying Ohio needed “uniform’’ voting hours on uniform days.
While turnout is key for both political parties, in a swing state like Ohio, where major elections often are decided by slim margins, every effort to reduce voting opportunities could give one side an unfair advantage over the other.
It is clear that Husted’s effort to end weekend voting would help his fellow Republicans.
Experts who have reviewed data from the 2008 election concluded that the voting days Husted eliminated are the very days favored by many African-Americans and low-income voters. And those two groups are among Democrats’ most loyal supporters.
Uniform standards that uniformly help one party over another are an insult to democracy.
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