Columbus -- Statehouse Democrats continue to push Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted to allow more opportunities for early in-person voting, enable voters to register online and count more provisional or incomplete or incorrectly cast ballots.
Sen. Nina Turner (D-Cleveland), who hopes to unseat Husted in November, Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) and other critics of GOP-backed election law changes and policy decisions also want more efforts to increase voter turnout, improvements to registrations through the state's bureaus of motor vehicles and additional Election Day polling places.
"… Restore early voting right now, let voters search by their home address for their polling place right now, allow all Ohioans to use online voter registration right now -- switch it on …," Turner said.
Turner, Clyde, Sen. Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville) and House Minority Leader Tracy Heard (D-Columbus) played host to a press conference at the Statehouse May 15 where they offered a multi-point plan titled "Making Voting Easier."
They also submitted their points to Husted in a letter in which they echoed many of the same concerns they've voiced repeatedly over the past three years. Some of the ideas have already been offered as legislation that has not received support in the Republican-controlled House or Senate. Proponents also say Husted has the authority to implement other changes without lawmaker action.
Absent law or policy shifts, many voters, including those who are disabled, elderly or minorities, will have a more difficult time casting ballots in November, the Democratic lawmakers said.
"Ohio is No. 1 in the country for purging voters," Clyde said. "Ohio is No. 3 in the country in casting provisional ballots. Ohio is No. 4 in the country for how many provisional ballots we reject. We're 36th in the country in registering people at the BMV …We think there are plenty of opportunities to make voting easier in Ohio."
Maggie Ostrowski, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state, said it would be more helpful if Democrats who publicly criticize the state's elections would instead help eligible residents understand how easy it is to vote.
"Voting over the course of four weeks … We'll be mailing absentee ballot applications to all registered voters, and don't forget Election Day when still the vast majority of Ohioans vote," she said. "Everybody's treated the same, fairly, and I think if they would help us in spreading how easy it is to vote, we'd all go a lot farther."
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.