Standing up for our values and rights – ODP leads effort to file brief with United States Supreme Court

As a Democrat, I’m a firm believer that we need to be a party that stands up for our values, and for the rights of the citizens of our state.

And when we stand up, I want to do so in a way that shows we are both serious and deeply passionate about the issues we care about.

Along those lines, I am proud to let you know that today, the Ohio Democratic Party today filed an Amicus Brief at the United States Supreme Court urging the court to reverse the unfortunate Sixth Circuit ruling upholding Ohio’s ban on marriage equality. Moreover, I am thrilled that in putting this brief together—working hand in hand with the Michigan Democratic Party—we have united hundreds of officials from all four states of the Sixth Circuit (Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan and Ohio) to speak up in one voice for the rights of those who these “bans” have unconstitutionally targeted for a decade.

We are especially called upon to play this role because Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, among others, has been all too eager to defend these bans at every level. Our aim is to not simply criticize him from afar for doing so, but to go to the highest court in the land and forcefully rebut his deeply flawed legal reasoning.

You can read the Amicus Brief by clicking here. As a lawyer who has been involved in many appellate briefs (and as a former law clerk who reviewed many), I can say that it is one of the most well-argued legal documents I’ve encountered—thanks to a team of nationally respected attorneys who worked on the project.

Finally, this will not be an isolated action. It has become crystal clear that as in this case, Attorney General DeWine seems far too eager to go to court on behalf of his political party or ideology while too often ignoring the rights and interests of the Ohioans who pay his salary. So we have created a new Advocacy Committee at the Ohio Democratic Party, guided by respected lawyers from around Ohio, and we will file more such briefs whenever courts need to be reminded that Attorney General DeWine is failing to represent Ohio, and failing to understand the law.

We will keep you posted on future cases.

David Pepper
Chairman, Ohio Democratic Party

BATTLEGROUND VOICES: Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga

Put American workers at the table in trade deals and keep them off the menu

By Tim Burga  Burga_Headshot_web

As Congress begins debate on whether to give President Obama unilateral authority to negotiate a new round of international trade agreements (“Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority), Ohioans would be well served to look at the catastrophic results of recent such arrangements. Between 2000 and 2014, American manufacturing employment dropped by 4 million jobs.  Fast Track authority and flawed trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), along with the inclusion of China in Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR), have blown up our import/export deficit and have led to the loss of over 300,000 Ohio manufacturing jobs and numerous additional losses in feeder and supply related work.

Fast Track circumvents Congressional oversight, limits transparency and has resulted in trade agreements that have benefitted global corporations at the expense of workers and their families.  Fast Track needs to be replaced with a new process for negotiating and approving trade agreements that increases Congressional and public oversight so that we can harvest the benefits of expanded trade without undermining the basic tenants of American democracy.

America’s working families cannot afford more flawed trade agreements that hollow out our industrial base, drive down wages, increase inequality, and add to our unsustainable trade deficit.  Congress should reject any legislation that allows trade negotiations to be done in secret which prevent federal, state and local elected officials or the public from being able to meaningfully participate in trade policy making.   Our most recent trade negotiating practices have hurt our economy in profound ways and we simply cannot afford to keep making those same mistakes.

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America’s workers understand that global trade is a necessary part of economic growth. They also understand that the evidence is overwhelming that a new U.S. trade model is desperately needed- a new “gold standard” model that prioritizes raising wages and shared prosperity for workers.  ”Buy American” should be much more than just a slogan- it should be the centerpiece of every decision that Congress and the President make.

Sign the petition and tell Congress that America needs jobs, not bad trade policy. Put the brakes on the “fast track” bill.

Tim Burga is President of the Ohio AFL-CIO.

BATTLEGROUND VOICES: ODP Chairman David Pepper

Tuesday, Governor Kasich delivered his annual State of the State address in Wilmington, Ohio.

I was deeply appreciative of his honoring of Cincinnati’s Lauren Hill, who has inspired so many across the country, along with other Ohioans who showed tremendous courage over the past year.

And I agree with the Governor on our state’s many great strengths.

But for many Ohio families, the state of Ohio and its economy—as they are directly experiencing it—is not nearly strong enough. Indeed, a poll last week found that despite several years of a robust national recovery, more than half of Ohioans still do not feel like their own financial situation has improved. Almost a third said it’s gotten worse over the past year!

When you look at budget decisions in the state over the past several years—as well as the Governor’s most recent tax proposal—it’s clear why the majority feel that way.

Unfortunately, the formula since 2010 has been clear: 1) trickle-down tax shifts that ask more of families who are struggling economically, but give generous tax breaks to those who are doing the best; 2) budget gimmicks that have transferred dollars from our local governments and schools to state coffers, leading to higher local taxes combined with layoffs of hard working public servants.

The latest tax proposal is more of the same. Ohioans making an income of $58,000 or below will actually see a tax INCREASE, and those making less than $89,000 will have no change at all. In Wilmington, where the Governor touted his plan, the average family is looking at an overall tax increase of $122.

Where have years of this trickle down philosophy gotten Ohio? Not far. Ohio’s recovery lags other states, ranking 37th in the country for job growth. Wages remain stagnant, and our median income is less than the national average. We’re still 80,000 jobs under where we were before the recession. No wonder so many working families continue to struggle.

As Leaders Schiavoni and Strahorn have made clear, the path to prosperity in Ohio requires the opposite approach. Focus on middle class prosperity—increasing wages, improving schools, investing in infrastucture, respecting working families, restoring the commitment to communities—and then the state of the state will ultimately be strong.

Democrats across the state, at all levels, will continue pushing for policies that return to these priorities.

For more analysis on the impacts of the state budget, visit Innovation Ohio at www.innovationohio.org.

BATTLEGROUND VOICES: House and Senate Leaders Discuss Gov. Kasich’s Budget

I am excited to announce that we will begin utilizing the ODP’s blog to regularly feature thoughts and opinions from leaders around Ohio. Our goal is to keep Ohio Democrats informed on the critical issues in our state and its communities, as well as introduce those Ohioans who are making a difference on these issues every day, at all levels.

Our first submission is from Senate Minority Leader Schiavoni and House Minority Leader Strahorn, explaining the deep problems with Governor Kasich’s budget proposal.

-David Pepper


 

Governor Kasich calls his budget a Blueprint for a New Ohio, but it’s really more of the same. The Governor continues his quest to lower the state income tax by raising taxes that disproportionately impact lower and middle income Ohioans.

Kasich has proposed increasing the state sales tax for the second consecutive budget—this time by 0.5% to 6.25%–and he wants to broaden it to include other services. So, if you think your cable TV bill is too high, it would go even higher and the next time you take a vacation that might cost more too. That’s because cable television subscriptions and travel packages and tours would be taxed.

The tax increases don’t end there. The Governor’s budget calls for raising the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products by $1.00 per pack. While there are public health benefits to reducing smoking, this increase impacts poor Ohioans more than other groups. Increases to the tobacco tax should go to smoking cessation programs not to further income tax cuts.

Even businesses and some senior citizens would not be spared. Larger businesses would be hit with a $691 million increase in the Commercial Activities Tax and senior citizens would have to pay $318 million more because of new means testing for the Social Security deduction and other tax credits.

All of this is being done so people in the top tax brackets can reap the largest benefits from another income tax cut. Democrats in the General Assembly have been calling this misguided policy a “tax shift”. Fortunately, more and more people across the state are waking up to this reality and the negative impact it is having on Ohioans.

Now, even Republicans are beginning to question the Governor’s policies. At a recent media briefing that we attended with reporters from the Associated Press, both the Senate President and the Speaker of the House spoke out against tax shifting. That’s progress, but we have much more work to do.

We urge the citizens of Ohio to get involved and speak out against this continuing tax shift. Call, write or email your elected officials and let them know how you feel. The state budget should reflect priorities that benefit all Ohioans, not just a fortunate few. You can count on Democrats in the general Assembly to stand up for your interests as the budget is debated over the coming months.

 

Senator Joe Schiavoni, Ohio Senate Minority Leader

Representative Fred Strahorn, Ohio House Minority Leader

Higher Unemployment, 12,400 Jobs Lost in July Under John Kasich’s Failed Policies

As Ohio loses jobs, labor market continues to shrink

COLUMBUS – This morning, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services released the July jobs report and revised June figures for Ohio. After losing nearly 3,000 jobs in May, the revised June job creation figure was reduced by almost a third.  July’s report showed Ohio lost 12,400 jobs overall with 2,900 jobs lost in manufacturing.  Ohio’s unemployment rate increased by .2% even though 6,000 Ohioans dropped out of the labor market—the 5th consecutive month Ohio’s labor market has shrunk.  In July, Ohio’s labor participation rate fell below the national rate.   This is third straight month that the number of employed Ohioans has shrunk.

In response to this month’s economic data, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern released the following statement:

“Under John Kasich, Ohio’s job growth continues to drag behind the rest of the nation, and more people give up on finding a job in our state each month. These numbers reveal a frightening reality about Ohioans struggling in a weak economy. Kasich’s policies have failed to create the jobs Ohioans need, all while shifting the tax burden onto middle class families.”

WHAT OTHERS HAVE BEEN SAYING ABOUT OHIO’S LAGGING ECONOMY:

Once again, Ohio had a subpar gain to that of the United States for 20 consecutive months,” he said. “What this means is that more than 100,000 Ohio workers can’t find a job because our recovery is too slow.” – Economic Research Analyst George Zeller. [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (7/18/2014), “Ohio’s unemployment rate 5.5%; state gained 12,700 jobs in June.”]

“Ohio hasn’t had the big rebound like other states.”—Michael Wolf, an economist with Wells Fargo & Co. [Source: Columbus Dispatch (6/21/2014), “Ohio’s jobless rate of 5.5% lowest since April 2007.”]

BACKGROUND

For the 20th straight month, Ohio’s job creation rate has been lower than the national average.  In reaction to the June jobs report, economic research analyst George Zeller noted, “Ohio had a subpar gain to that of the United States for 20 consecutive months.” [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (7/18/2014), “Ohio’s unemployment rate 5.5%; state gained 12,700 jobs in June.”]

Job creation under John Kasich in Ohio has lagged U.S. job growth.  In fact, at least 8 other governor’s terms since 1959 have seen stronger job growth than Ohio has seen so far under John Kasich.  [Source:  Cleveland Plain Dealer (8/5/2014), “Ohio lags U.S. jobs growth, as it has under a half-century of governors from John Kasich to Michael DiSalle.”]

When Kasich was elected Governor, Ohio’s job creation rate was nearly twice that of the national rate.  Now, Ohio’s ranked 38th in job creation.  In November 2010, Ohio’s job creation rate was 1.02% compared to the national average of  .54%.  Now, Ohio is ranked 38th in the nation with a job growth rate  (.83%) lower than it was in 2010. [Source: Arizona State University, W.P. Carey School of Business, “Job Growth USA” website (accessed 6/23/2014)]

In 2010, Ohio created over 55,000 new jobs — more than it did in 2013 under Kasich.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio created 55,100 jobs in 2010, a year before Kasich took office, while only creating 50,400 jobs last year.  [Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, CES Survey, seasonally adjusted (accessed 5/8/2014)].

Job gains under Kasich are in lower paying industries than the jobs lost in the recession.  “Weekly hourly earnings in the industries that showed employment gains since the recession in Ohio range from $12 to about $25 per hour,” [Veronica Kalich, an economics professor at Baldwin Wallace University] said, adding that professional and business services came in a little higher. “Employment has not recovered in the higher paying jobs.”  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer, (7/7/2014), “Ohio has not recovered 120,000 jobs lost since the recession: some say number higher.”]

Unemployment rate drop has been fueled by people leaving the workforce, not job creation.  Since Kasich took office, Ohioans labor market has shrunk by 91,000.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statics, 91,000 Ohioans have dropped out of the labor market since Kasich took office. In 2014 so far alone, over 43,000 Ohioans dropped out of the labor market. [Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, LAUS Survey, seasonally adjusted (accessed 8/15/2014)]

Nationally, the country now has more jobs than it did at its pre-recession level.  With today’s national jobs report for May, the country now has more jobs than it did before the 2008 recession.  [Source: New York Times (6/6/2014), “In Jobs Report, Two Milestones.”]

Yost Boasts Of Finding Misspending By Already Closed Charter School

Misspending Already Documented Years Ago

COLUMBUS –On Tuesday, Dave Yost released three audits regarding Elite Academy of the Arts, which was closed by the Ohio Department of Education in 2012, concerning spending from 2009 until it closed, Ohio Democratic Deputy Communications Director Brian Hester released the following statement:

“Yost should explain how the public is served when his office’s obvious backlog prevents relevant information about how tax money is being misspent from being uncovered in a timely manner.  If this is the best Yost can do, he’s proven to be a poor watchdog for Ohio taxpayers.  Because of Yost’s inability to timely release these audits, wrongdoers have years of a head start to avoid apprehension by law enforcement.”

Questions raised by Yost’s delayed release of these audits:

  1. Why was Elite Academy never audited by the State when it was open?
  2. Why did it take Yost’s office two more years to complete the audit of an already closed school over spending that occurred nearly five years ago?
  3. Why did Yost’s office not make it a priority to complete these audits once it was announced that the school was being closed due to poor academic performance?
  4. What became of Yost’s referral to the Ohio Ethics Commission in 2012 over this failed closed charter?
  5. What steps has Yost’s office taken to avoid further delays in completing audits of poor performing or closing charter schools?

BACKGROUND

The Ohio Department of Education ordered Elite Academy of the Arts closed before the State Auditor’s Office had ever audited it.  In 2011, the Ohio Department of Education ordered the Elite Academy of the Arts charter school to close in FY 2012. [Source: Ohio Department of Education.]

Prior to its closure, the Auditor’s Office apparently had never audited the charter school, but months after it closed released two audits concerning its activities in 2007-2009.  [Source: Ohio Auditor’s website.]

The first audit of the charter school Yost released in 2012 already showed the charter school had allegedly misspent money in buying alcohol on multiple occasions,  had poor support to justify cash withdraws,  and had poor financial reporting and recording safeguards.  The 2012 audits also alleged that the superintendent had an unlawful interest in the district’s contract with its operator since he was also the operator’s owner.  These are virtually the same findings Yost made in the audits he released on Tuesday.  [Source: State Auditor’s Audits for Elite Academy of the Arts released on 8/21/2012 and 4/1/2014 (five audits in total.)]

RNC Leader Reince Priebus Visits Ohio

Expected to Make Another Flawed Prediction About GOP Ground Game

SALEM, OHIO– Tonight, Friday, April 4th, 2014, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will fly into Ohio to headline the Columbiana County GOP’s Lincoln Day dinner. In advance of the RNC Chairman’s speech, Ohio Democratic Party Communications Director Meredith Tucker released the following statement:

“Tonight, we’re sure to hear a lot of bravado about the Republicans’ plans for a new ground game in Ohio. So while they start from scratch, we’re building on our successful, already-proven Get Out The Vote strategy. Reince was wrong on Ohio then, and he’s wrong on Ohio now.”

A few things to keep in mind as the national Republican leader comes to Ohio to talk 2014 “strategy”:

FLASHBACK: Priebus wrongly predicted in 2012, “We’re going to crush them in Ohio.”

NewYork Observer // “RNC Chairman Reince Priebus: ‘We’re Going to Crush Them in Ohio’”

That’s the one thing that I think that is a narrative out there that I just think is blatantly uninformed, which is the fact that the Democrats have this great ground game. I think we’re going to crush the Democrats on the ground,” Mr. Priebus said. “I just don’t think they’ve got a very good ground game. I’ve looked through it, I’ve seen it. It’s all smoke and mirrors. It’s a lot of talk, but when you go around the neighborhood and you look at who’s getting absentee ballots in the municipal clerks’ offices and you figure out who’s hitting their goals, in our case, we’ve got a sophisticated program around our GOP universe and we check that every single morning with municipal clerks’ offices that are hooked up to our system. And I just know that we’re better than them on the ground, and I think that we’re going to crush them in Ohio.”

REALITY:

The Wire // Romney’s Get Out The Vote Plan Was a Complete Disaster

“As Republicans continue to deconstruct the failure of the Romney campaign, volunteers have revealed that there were serious problems with the candidate’s whiz-bang tech solution for getting people to the polls.”

BUT, SERIOUSLY:

The Boston Globe // ORCA, Mitt Romney’s high-tech get-out-the-vote program Crashed on Election Day

“Mitt Romney’s online voter-turnout operation suffered a meltdown on Election Day, result­ing in a crucial 90-minute “buckling” of the system in Boston […]”

Ohio Democratic Candidates Remember SB 5 Anniversary

Three years ago today, Governor Kasich signed SB 5 into law

COLUMBUS – Today is the third anniversary of Governor Kasich’s signing of SB 5 into law.   As Democratic statewide candidates campaigned throughout the State as part of our “Working Families Tour” today, they issued the following statements in honor of today’s anniversary.

Gubernatorial Candidate Ed FitzGerald:

“Three years ago today, Governor Kasich began an assault on hardworking Ohioans. And while he lost that fight, it is clear that the Governor’s position on the right of workers to bargain for healthcare and a living wage remains unchanged. Just last week, he ‘scoffed’ at the impact of his cuts on firefighters and flew to Vegas to meet with one of the largest anti-union donors in the country. Ohio’s families can’t risk another four years of John Kasich.”

Ohio Attorney General Candidate David Pepper:

“Senate Bill 5 was a betrayal of the first responders, teachers, and other hardworking public employees who dedicate themselves to the people of Ohio. The Attorney General, as the state’s top legal officer, has a special duty to look out for these people and for all hardworking Ohioans. I will never stand silently by while the livelihood and safety of police, teachers, firefighters, or any Ohioans are under attack.”

Secretary of State Candidate Nina Turner:

“Three years ago, Governor Kaisch signed SB 5 into law. The grassroots campaign that followed demonstrated to the nation the power and importance of making every voter matter and every vote count.”

State Auditor Candidate John Patrick Carney:

“Public employees, like firefighters and teachers, provide critical services for all Ohioans. As public servants and pillars of our community, they each deserve fair wages and benefits to make their mortgage, put food on their table, and care for their family.”

State Treasurer Candidate Connie Pillich:

“Today is a reminder of why we must never forget the worker. I was proud to be a part of defeating SB 5 – which would have led to fewer firefighters responding to our emergencies, fewer police officers protecting our neighborhoods, and fewer resources for our schools.  As State Treasurer, I will continue to fight for working families, safeguard Ohioans’ hard earned tax dollars, and help protect and strengthen seniors’ retirement and pension security.”

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DeWine Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Make Discrimination Against Women Legal

DeWine brief argues that discriminating against
female employees’ health rights is “as American as apple pie.”

COLUMBUS – In response to this morning’s arguments from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in favor of allowing employers to deny female employees access to birth control through their health plans, Ohio Democratic Deputy Communications Director Brian Hester released the following statement:

“Nearly 50 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled States could not prevent married couples from being counseled on birth control.  Now, DeWine and his band of Republican Attorneys General are attempting to reverse that decision by allowing for-profit corporate employers the ability to deny women access to medically prescribed birth control care.  A woman’s personal health decision belongs between her and her doctor, without the intrusion of her employer, or politicians like Mike DeWine. This is another case of Mike DeWine being wrong on the issues, and wasting Ohioans’ tax dollars to pursue his partisan, political agenda.”

A recent national poll found that 53% of Americans say employers should not be exempt from the birth control mandate, even if the employer claims it has religious objections.

BACKGROUND

The U.S. Supreme Court held it was unconstitutional for a State to ban counseling married couples regarding birth control in 1965.  The United States Supreme Court held in the 1965 case, Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965), that the U.S. Constitutional conferred an individual right of privacy that forbade the State from interfering with the private right of a patient to discuss medical issues, such as birth control, with a health professional.

DeWine’s amicus brief is signed by 19 other State Attorneys General—all Republicans.  The amicus brief filed in the Hobby Lobby case lists Mike DeWine’s Office as the lead counsel representing 20 States, all of whom enter the case on behalf of their Republican Attorney Generals.   DeWine has been participating in such cases even when they have not involved any Ohio law or Ohio party. [Source: Brief of Amici Curiae States of Michigan, Ohio and 18 Other States for Conestoga, Hobby Lobby, Mardel in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, U.S. Supreme Court Case No. 13-354, 13-356.]

 

DeWine’s brief argues that allowing secular, for-profit corporations to deny female employees access through their health insurance to birth control care is as “American as apple pie.”  After equating denying health insurance coverage of birth control to a Jewish-owned deli that does not sell non-kosher foods, DeWine’s brief claimed: “The idea is as American as apple pie.” [Source: Amicus Brief at pg 3.]

DeWine’s brief largely rests on claiming that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) permits for-profit, secular companies to deny female employees access to birth control.   DeWine’s main argument is that Congress meant for the RFRA to apply to for-profit corporations when it comes to their employee health insurance benefits.  [Source: Amicus Brief at pg 5.]

Arizona and Ohio recently rejected enacting a State version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062, which would have given corporations in Arizona the ability to assert religious reasons for engaging what otherwise would be considered discriminatory actions.  [Source: AZ Central (2/26/2014), “Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoes Senate Bill 1062.”]

In response to the controversy over Arizona’s legislation, the Ohio sponsors of HB 376, which also would have enacted a State version of the federal RFRA, withdrew the legislation from consideration by the General Assembly.  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (2/26/2014), “Bill sponsors agree to scrap Ohio version of Arizona’s controversial religious freedom bill.”]

53% of Americans oppose exempting employers from the birth control mandate, even if the the employer objects for religious reasons.  The latest NBC/WSJ poll taken March 5-9 found that 53% of American adults “say employers should not be exempt from the requirement that their health plans offer birth control and other contraceptives even if they have religious objections.”  [Source: NBC News (3/19/2014), “Poll: Majority Opposes Employers Opting Out of Contraception Mandate.”]

DeWine attempted to inject his office in a contraception case in Nebraska involving no Ohio parties.  The week following his endorsement of Rick Santorum for President, DeWine filed an amicus brief on behalf of seven Republican state Attorneys General seeking to challenge the Affordable Care Act’s provisions mandating birth control coverage.  [Source: Reuters (2/24/2012), “DeWine joins lawsuit over Obama birth-control rule.”]

The Nebraska lawsuit was dismissed by a federal court judge for the parties’ lack of standing.  In July 2012, a federal judge dismissed the Nebraska lawsuit holding that the plaintiffs did not have legal standing to bring a lawsuit to challenge the contraception provisions of the Affordable Care Act. [Source: Lincoln Journal Star (7/17/2012) “Judge tosses out contraception lawsuit filed by Nebraska, six other states.”]

In September, the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected DeWine’s challenge to the same contraception provisions in a Michigan case.  In Autocam v. Sebelius (6th Cir. Case No. 12-2673, an unanimous panel ruled that the plaintiffs, like the district court did in the Nebraska case, lacked standing.  [Source: U.S. Sixth Circuit Opinion, Autocam v. Sebelius (9/17/2013), Case No. 12-2673. As found: http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/13a0278p-06.pdf.]

Jon Husted Fails Ohio Voters

Republican Secretary of State has turned the office into a partisan lapdog, not a watchdog for voters’ rights

COLUMBUS – In response to Secretary of State Jon Husted failure to speak out publicly today against SB 205 or SB 238 as they passed the Ohio House of Representatives, Ohio Democratic Party Deputy Communications Director Brian Hester released the following statement:

“After the 2004 elections, there was a bipartisan agreement that Ohio’s election laws needed reform.  Since then, Republicans have worked nonstop to roll back those reforms to prevent people who don’t support Republicans from voting.  As Secretary of State, Jon Husted took an oath to protect Ohio voter’s right to vote, but has clearly failed to lead.  Instead, Husted yet again chose to be a lapdog for his own party.”

BACKGROUND

Three major Ohio editorials have recently made it clear that these bills were being passed for no other reason than deny likely Democratic voters the vote before the 2014 election.  The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s editorial today said that the measures “aim to limit voting by Ohioans who might vote for Democrats” and called passage of the bills “an affront to democracy” that allowed politicians to “pick their own voters.”  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (2/19/2014), “Ohio House Republicans should walk away from bills aimed at decreasing the ease of voting in Ohio”]

The Toledo Blade editorial said the bills “would make it harder to vote among citizens whom GOP politicians would rather keep away from the polls.” On the GOP argument that the bills were need to fight “voter fraud,” the Blade noted “[t]hat argument would be more credible if those who make it could point to specific examples of fraud in Ohio voting that their measures would prevent. But they can’t offer evidence of systematic fraud, because it doesn’t exist.  These bad measures aren’t as blatant as the poll taxes and literacy tests that Southern elections officials used during the civil rights era a half-century ago to keep African-Americans from voting. But their effect is largely, and intolerably, the same, and their approval would seem to invite court challenges under federal voting rights law.” [Source: Toledo Blade (2/19/14), “Don’t suppress the vote”]

The Akron Beacon Journal editorial noted that the Republicans decided that “[r]ather than work in a bipartisan way on a comprehensive overhaul of election laws, the Republican-run legislature has proceeded on its own unfortunate course. This week, the Ohio House is working on bills that push aside important priorities and contain flaws that would make voting more difficult.” [Source: Akron Beacon Journal (2/18/2014), “Election partisans”]

Jon Husted supports cutting early voting days by a week.  According to the Columbus Dispatch, Secretary of State Husted recommends that “early voting would instead start 29 days before the election” but it end during the afternoon “the Sunday before the general election.”  Currently, Ohio law permits early voting for thirty-five days before the general election.  [Source: Columbus Dispatch, (10/24/2013), “Husted promotes limits on early voting.”

Federal courts already ruled that Husted’s attempts to cut general election early voting days are illegal.  In 2012, the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Ohio ruled that Ohio could not cut off early voting the Friday before the general election.  Republicans attempted to reduce the number of days of early voting, but the Ohio General Assembly reversed them after HB 194 was threatened with a referendum campaign.  [Source: Reuters (8/31/12), “Court overturns Ohio early voting restrictions in win for Democrats.”]

The decision to declare Republicans’ attempt to cut off early voting before Election Day was upheld by federal appellate courts.  The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision declaring the restriction “unconstitutional.”  “The court acknowledged an argument that ‘low-income and minority voters are disproportionately affected by elimination’ of the three days of polling for many voters and said ‘there is no definitive evidence… that elections boards would be tremendously burdened’ by returning poll access to the standard before recent changes to the state’s laws.” [Source: CNN (10/5/2012), “Federal court upholds Ohio early voting ruling.”]

According to official records maintained by Jon Husted’s own office, more than 600,000 Ohioans used Early Voting in 2012. [Source: Ohio Secretary of State’s website, 2012 “Absentee Ballot Report.”]

Paid for and authorized by the Ohio Democratic Party, not authorized by any federal candidate or campaign committee. David Pepper, Chairman, 340 East Fulton St, Columbus, Ohio 43215.