Rep. Kathleen Clyde Protests GOP Voter Suppression Bills
Decries stifled debate on Senate Bill 238, submits planned floor speech to the House record
February 21, 2014
 
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Today, State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) submitted a protest criticizing the Ohio House GOP’s decision to silence debate, refusal to consider bipartisan input and swift passage of Amended Senate Bill 238 during House session on Wednesday. Included in the memo is Rep. Clyde’s planned speech in opposition to the bill.


After limited debate, House Speaker William G. Batchelder prematurely called a vote on Am. S.B. 238 despite multiple pending amendments and opponents who had risen to speak. Am. S.B. 238 eliminates “Golden Week,” when a voter can register and cast a ballot on the same day, by reducing early voting days.


Also passed on Wednesday was Senate Bill 205, to make further cuts to absentee voting and create the harshest ballot rejection rule in the country. Rep. Clyde spoke to this bill on the House floor, and her comments can be viewed here.


On Thursday, House and Senate Democratic leadership and members called for Governor Kasich to veto Am. S.B. 238 and S.B. 205.  


A copy of Rep. Clyde’s protest memo can be seen below:


MEMORANDUM
TO: Brad Young
FROM: State Representative Kathleen Clyde
DATE: February 21, 2014
RE: Protest of Amended Senate Bill 238


Pursuant to Article II, Section 10 of the Constitution of the State of Ohio which states, “Any member of either house shall have the right to protest against any act, or resolution thereof; and such protest, and the reasons therefor, shall, without alteration, commitment, or delay, be entered upon the journal,” we file the following protest to be entered upon the journal.


I, State Representative Kathleen Clyde, of House District 75, protest the Ohio House’s decision to end debate, refuse to consider amendments, and rush to pass Amended Senate Bill 238. 


Because I, along with many of my colleagues, was not recognized on the floor of the House to speak out against Am. S.B. 238, I include here with this protest the speech I had planned to deliver. 


Senate Bill 238 makes it harder to vote and solves no real problems.  The bill cuts early voting by six days and it eliminates Same Day Registration in Ohio.


Early voting is important.  59,000 Ohioans voted during the “Same Day Registration” week in 2012.


Early voting was enacted after Ohio was the laughingstock of the country in 2004 for the 4 to 10 hour long lines Ohioans waited in to vote in the November 2004 election.  Now, over 30% of Ohioans vote early, which has lessened the demand on Election Day. Lines have gone down.  We have gotten better.


The bi-partisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration headed by President Obama’s campaign lawyer and Mitt Romney’s campaign lawyer, recently recommended that early voting should be expanded –the opposite of what is being done here– and that expanding early voting results in shorter wait times for voting.


Being able to register and vote on the same day is also important.  Same Day Registration increases voter turnout. States that allow Same Day Registration consistently lead the nation in voter participation. Four of the top five states for voter turnout in the 2012 presidential election all offered Same Day Registration. Average voter turnout was over 10 percentage points higher in Same Day Registration states than in other states. 


Same Day Registration assists geographically mobile, lower-income citizens, young voters and voters of color.  And it greatly reduces the need for provisional balloting.


So why would we take away Ohioans’ ability to register and vote on the same day? Why take early voting days away?  There is no reason. 


The original reason promoted by the bill sponsor – to prevent voter fraud – is false, and even the sponsor, Senator LaRose, admitted it.


Elections officials are not asking for this legislation.  They don’t have problems administering Same Day Registration Week.  They do not support this bill.


And, the bill doesn’t save the Boards of Elections any money – they are open for business on these days anyway.


To list as a reason that Democrats voted for this proposal five years ago is ridiculous.  First, every single Republican voted against that proposal.  Second, the proposal then was part of a package of proposals, known as House Bill 260.  House Bill 260 had common sense error correction for absentee ballots, common sense provisional ballot rules, and –had the Republicans supported it– the 47,000 ballots that were thrown out in the November 2012 election would have been counted.  Third, since when does the majority caucus care what we think about voting?  I’m noticing that it’s only to mock us and to cover up for your own lack of policy reasons for this bill.


Like all of the election bills we have seen from the GOP this General Assembly, this bill solves no problem in Ohio elections.  The bill will actually create problems.  Counties have responded to the increase in the number of Ohioans voting early by reducing polling places and precincts.   As we lessen the number of days to vote early like in this bill, we will potentially be setting ourselves up for long lines on Election Day.  We also miss the opportunities to reduce provisional ballots and clean up our voter registration database that Same Day Registration affords us. 


The only reason to take away early voting days and same day registration in Ohio is to make it harder for people to vote.  Harder for people of color.  Harder for lower income people.  Harder for students.  This is voter suppression, folks.  Plain and simple.


I am offended by this voter suppression legislation.  You all should be offended by this legislation and this majority’s relentless attack on the right to vote in Ohio.


I urge defeat of Senate Bill 238.


I would have preferred to deliver this speech to my colleagues on the floor of the House and I reiterate my protest against the decision to cut off debate from elected members of the Ohio General Assembly.


 


 


 

 
 
 
  
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