COLUMBUS – House and Senate Democrats are calling on Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to rescind his May 30, 2013 tie vote decision that ordered the Hamilton County Board of Elections to refer 39 voters who lawfully cast their ballots to prosecutors for investigation. Franklin County referred 90 lawful voters for investigation. Democrats also ask for a directive to be issued to all counties prohibiting such harassment of voters who followed the clear letter of the law when they voted in the 2012 election.
See the letter below:
Secretary of State Jon Husted
180 E. Broad Street, 16th floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Dear Secretary Husted,
We write with great concern about your order requiring the Hamilton County Board of Elections to refer 39 people who voted lawfully to prosecutors for unnecessary investigation. In the wake of your order, Republican members of the Franklin County Board also referred 90 lawful voters to prosecutors.
These voters followed the clear letter of the law when they cast provisional ballots on Election Day after requesting or submitting an absentee ballot. Our law wisely anticipates that voters could experience problems with absentee ballots and explicitly allows these voters to vote provisionally on Election Day as a failsafe. Your actions may have signaled to other counties that it is okay to harass voters with investigation and possible prosecution.
Many things go wrong with absentee ballots, which is why we build failsafe mechanisms into the law. It may not reach the Board of Elections on time, it may not include enough postage, or it might contain a simple mistake on the paperwork of a kind that gets thousands of ballots rejected each election. Casting a provisional ballot that counts only if the absentee ballot has a problem gives voters a chance to exercise their fundamental right to choose their democratic leaders, rather than having their vote rejected over a simple error. The law says such voters “shall be permitted to cast a provisional ballot.” ORC 3509.09. Your duty is to administer the laws, not to make them, and the law here is very clear.
We ask that you reverse your tie vote decision that forced the Hamilton County Board of Elections to send lawful voters to the prosecutor and that you also require the Franklin County Board of Elections to stop its witch hunt as well. To ensure that no Ohio voter is wrongly harassed, intimidated, and discouraged from voting, we ask that you also issue a directive to every county prohibiting such harassment of voters who clearly followed the law. Voters in every county should be protected from such an egregious abuse of the law.
Thank you for your consideration.
Senate Democratic Leader
Senate District 9
Senate District 25
Tracy Maxwell Heard
House Democratic Leader
House District 26
House District 75
House District 28
Senate District 15
House District 20
House District 25
House District 31
House District 33
House District 32
Democratic lawmakers today called on the Governor John Kasich to recognize the devastating opioid addiction epidemic for what it is: a public health emergency. At a statehouse press conference this morning the lawmakers said the state must have a strong, unified response and release emergency state funding to combat the statewide opioid crisis that is claiming lives in rural areas and urban centers alike.
“The first step in any road to recovery is admitting that you have a problem, and it’s time for the administration to recognize the opioid addiction crisis as the public health emergency that it is,” said Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron). “Too many Ohio families are losing loved ones to drug addiction and overdoses. We must marshal all available state resources and attention to fight back against this rapidly growing threat to our communities.”
State Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron), today responded to Gov. John Kasich’s Thursday comments at the Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative and the state’s actions to combat the opioid epidemic. The governor’s optimistic comments came on the same day the Ohio Department of Health released the report on 2015 Ohio Drug Overdose Data stating fentanyl-related drug overdoses more than doubled from 2014 to 2015. And the numbers continue to climb. For July 2016, Summit County alone experienced an estimated 395 overdoses, which matched the total number of overdoses in the county for the four months prior combined.*
“State leaders still refuse to call the opioid epidemic what it is: a public health crisis,” said Johnson. “It is imperative we remain hopeful and positive, but only if we are also employing all available resources to the law enforcement officers and treatment providers on the front lines. There has yet to be a coherent, statewide response to this devastating public health crisis that is killing more Ohioans than ever before. Summit County is doing a tremendous job at treating and preventing overdoses in my district, but with greater funding and direction from the state, we could be doing far more.”
State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) today announced a new plan to assist struggling communities hit hardest by Governor Kasich’s budget cuts and tax shifting policies over the past several years. Since taking office, Gov. Kasich cut over $1.7 billion in local community funding. Over 70 cities have lost at least $1 million each year due to Kasich’s budgeting and tax decisions, and 12 small cities have lost at least $2 million each, per year.
Ohio House Democratic members hosted a press conference today to speak out against the recent attacks on women’s access to healthcare. Led by State Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron), the lawmakers introduced a package of bills aimed at securing and expanding women’s access to comprehensive healthcare services.
WATCH Rep. Johnson deliver her powerful closing above.