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On National Black Voter Day, Rep. West calls for action to eliminate systemic barriers to voting

Call comes as Senate considers GOP election bill that would create new voting restrictions
September 18, 2020
Thomas West News

COLUMBUS –Today, on the first-ever National Black Voter Day, State Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) issued a statement calling for action to eliminate systemic barriers to voting in Ohio. The call comes as the Ohio Senate considers House Bill (HB) 680, the GOP election bill that would create new voting restrictions like shortening the time for voters to request absentee ballots, eliminating the ability for the secretary of state to prepay return postage for ballot materials, and barring the Health Director and other officials from affecting the conduct of elections—even in the interest of public health.

“On this day of recognition for Black voters and Black voices, we must redouble our efforts to remove these systemic barriers that have kept our voices in particular from being fully heard,” said Rep. West. “I call on all of my colleagues to join me in this push. As the late Congressman John Lewis said, ‘your vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent instrument or tool we have in a democratic society.’ Let us honor his life’s work and his legacy by continuing to fight for this most just cause.”

The GOP elections bill stands in stark contrast to HB 687, the House Democrats’ general elections proposal, which would expand online registration, make it easier for Ohioans to vote by mail, and protect in-person voting opportunities amid the coronavirus pandemic.

House Democrats have also continued to call on Secretary of State Frank LaRose to do everything in his power to make voting more accessible for voters in these unprecedented times. On Aug. 18, the caucus provided LaRose a 16-point checklist of what they would like to see from his office, including:

·         Multiple secure drop boxes

·         Paying return postage

·         Keeping all polling locations open

·         Online absentee ballot application

Below are also some important dates to remember for this election.

·         Sept. 18: Military early voting starts/National Black Voter Day

·         Oct. 5: Voter registration deadline

·         Oct. 6: Early voting starts for everyone

·         Oct. 31 by NOON: Deadline to request an absentee ballot

·         Nov. 2: Postmark absentee ballot if returning by mail

·         Nov. 3 by 7:30 p.m.: Submit absentee ballot to BOE if returning in person

·         Nov. 3, in-person voting from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.: Election Day