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Ohio GOP makes voting harder for elderly people, city dwellers, and military members

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Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a pair of laws Friday to cut the early voting period and limit the eligibility of absentee ballots.

Democrats have promised court challenges to the laws, which eliminates the five-day “golden period” when residents could register to vote and cast early ballots on the same day and also prohibits county officials from mailing out absentee ballots to eligible voters.

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About 59,000 Ohioans cast ballots during the “golden period” in 2012, and 1.3 million cast absentee ballots.

A spokesman for the Republican Kasich said the changes make absentee voting rules more uniform, adding that Ohio’s early voting period is still longer than 40 other states under the new restrictions.

Senate Bill 238, which was sponsored by Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Fairlawn), reduces the number of days an absentee ballot may be case by mail or in person from 35 days to 29 days before an election.

Senate Bill 205, sponsored by Sen. Bill Coley (R-West Chester), prohibits any public official other than the secretary of state from mass-mailing absentee ballot applications to registered voters, and only in even-numbered years and with funding appropriated by the General Assembly.

The bill also increases the number of items required to allow absentee ballots to be counted and prohibits election workers from assisting voters unless they are disabled or illiterate.

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“This means that voters in nursing homes will no longer be able to receive assistance from bipartisan teams, making it harder for seniors to vote,” said state Rep. Debbie Phillips (D-Albany). “The new rules will likely lead to an increase in the number of overseas military ballots that are thrown out for minor paperwork errors. This is unconscionable, inexcusable and likely illegal under the voting rights acts.”

The changes are supposed to go into effect in 90 days unless they are blocked through lawsuits.

Both measures were sponsored and passed by Republican lawmakers, including one who wondered aloud why the state should “cater to” voters who are unwilling or unable to get to a polling place unless someone drives them there “after church on Sunday.”

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Critics say the changes will make it harder for elderly voters and voters in urban area to cast ballots – which usually go toward Democratic candidates.

Jon Husted, the Republican Secretary of State, cast a tie-breaking vote Friday to move the Hamilton County Board of Elections office from downtown Cincinnati to suburban Mount Airy, about 10 miles away and with fewer public transportation options.

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Husted suggested Hamilton County officials to improve bus service to the new location by 2017, when the change goes into effect.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]


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2020 Election

The ‘Titanic met an iceberg named Elizabeth Warren’: Michael Bloomberg’s first debate performance widely panned

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Former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg's first presidential debate performance is being widely panned by pundits.

The Root's Dr. Jason Johnson told MSNBC viewers just how bad he thought Bloomberg did at the Democratic debate in Las Vegas: "The most expensive night in Vegas I've ever seen. He lost everything."

"This probably was the most expensive night in Vegas I've ever seen. Bloomberg lost everything.

He stumbled over obvious questions anyone could have anticipated. He's probably doubling the salary of people going into the spin room" --@DrJasonJohnson #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/Vv6bC8xrRI

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How Democrats clean up the messes left by Republicans

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For decades, Democratic administrations have been cleaning up economic messes left to them by Republican administrations. Thanks to Donald Trump, they'll have to do so again.

Before diving in, we need to understand this one concept: the debt-to-GDP ratio.

The national debt is a meaningless number on its own. It's meaningful only as a percentage of the total economy, the GDP. Even if the debt grows, that's okay so long as the economy grows even faster. But if the reverse is true — if the economy is growing more slowly than the debt — we're in trouble.

With this in mind, let's go back to the 1980s. When Ronald Reagan took office, the national debt equaled just a little over 30 percent of the total economy. Then Reagan began cutting taxes and spending a huge amount on the military. By the time he left the White House, the debt-to-GDP ratio was nearly 50 percent. He viewed it as a way of "starving the beast" so future Democratic administrations would find it harder to fund programs for the poor and average working people.

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2020 Election

Sanders campaign manager accuses MSNBC of ‘constantly undermining’ Bernie: Fox News is ‘more fair’

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Faiz Shakir, the campaign manager for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., claimed that right-leaning Fox News has treated the self-described democratic socialist "more fair" than left-leaning MSNBC.

"Fox is often yelling about Bernie Sanders' socialism, but they're still giving our campaign the opportunity to make our case in a fair manner, unlike MSNBC, which has credibility with the left and is constantly undermining the Bernie Sanders campaign," Shakir told Vanity Fair in an interview published Tuesday.

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