February 21, 2014 


Contact: Carrie Davis

Phone: 614.469.1505


Voting Rights Advocates Urge Kasich to Veto Voting Restrictions


COLUMBUS - Voter advocates from around Ohio today called on Governor Kasich to veto Senate Bill 205 (SB 205) and Senate Bill 238 (SB 238). Both bills were passed by the legislature late Wednesday and would impose significant new restrictions on absentee and early voting. Numerous voter advocates testified on these bills, identified our concerns, and offered specific suggestions for amendments that would have improved the bills. However, despite our efforts, many problems remain with these bills.  


"These two bills move Ohio in the wrong direction," said Deidra Reese, of the Ohio Voting Rights Coalition. "While other states are looking to expand early voting options, Ohio is moving in the opposition direction."


"SB 205 makes absentee voting less accessible," explained Carrie Davis, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. "It prohibits government officials from sending unsolicited absentee applications to voters - a prohibition so broad that it would even ban counties from automatically giving them to poll workers. It allows absentee ballots and applications to be rejected for minor paperwork mistakes. In short, it makes absentee voting harder."


"SB 238 eliminates the first week of absentee and early voting, often called 'golden week', in which a voter can register and cast an early ballot in one stop" said Cathy Johnston, Advocacy Director for the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing (COHHIO). "While one week may not seem like much, we are deeply concerned that this bill may represent the first of many more cuts to early voting."


"Ohio's adoption of no-fault absentee and early in-person voting has prevented a repeat of the long lines and other problems Ohio voters experienced in 2004," added Ellis Jacobs, of the Miami Valley Voter Protection Coalition. "It also saved counties money. Up to a third of Ohio voters cast a ballot before Election Day, which means counties save money by consolidating precincts, needing fewer polling places, poll workers, and voting machines. If it's harder for Ohio voters to vote early, all those cost savings might be undone."


"Why cut something that works? Absentee and early voting are hugely popular with Ohio voters," concluded Catherine Turcer, of Common Cause Ohio. "Governor Kasich should respect Ohio voters' desire for expanded early voting opportunities by vetoing SB 205 and SB 238."