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Rep. Sweeney responds to Yost opinion on law criminalizing partnerships on voting activity

January 6, 2022
Bride Rose Sweeney News

COLUMBUS — State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) issued the following statement after Attorney General Dave Yost released an opinion Tuesday on the meaning of a law that appears to bar election officials from collaborating with non-governmental persons or entities on voting initiatives. The opinion states that election officials could be subject to first-degree misdemeanor or fourth-degree felony charges for collaborating with voter advocates.

“Most of us recognize it is every elected official and every American’s job to protect our democracy and our freedom to vote. But the Attorney General missed an opportunity to reassure voters and election officials that they can partner on voter registration, education and access efforts in our communities without fear of prosecution. His opinion leaves confusion instead of the clear instruction local officials sought. Now it’s even more important to pass my Election Engagement Restoration Act which would remove this deliberate barrier to voting from Ohio law. No election official should fear prosecution for doing their job.”

Rep. Sweeney introduced the Election Engagement Restoration Act (HB 380) in July 2021 to remove the provision in the state budget that forbids election officials from engaging in routine partnerships with individuals, community leaders and organizations. The provision was put into the state budget at the last minute without public vetting despite Democrats’ repeated objections and call for a veto.