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Ohioans Gather to Demand Fair Access to the Ballot Box

Second "Testimony Tuesday" brings together diverse group of voters to demand end to ballot rule shenanigans

4/9/2014, 11:31 a.m.

COLUMBUS—Today on the steps of the Ohio Statehouse, legislators, community leaders, and voting advocates gathered at the second Testimony Tuesday event to call upon the state’s political leaders to stop enacting restrictive voting policies, and to instead encourage broader participation in government.

“The right to vote is one that should be considered amongst those certain unalienable rights our country was founded to protect,” said State Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain). “After finishing 45th in job creation over the past year we should be finding ways to get Ohioans back to work. Instead, the Republican majority and Governor Kasich continue to spend their time looking for creative solutions to refuse citizens their right to cast a ballot.”

"Citizens of Ohio have enough to worry about in their lives,” said Petee Talley, Secretary-Treasurer of the Ohio AFL-CIO. “Families are working hard to make ends meet, and the last thing that they should be worried about is the way their ballots are cast and counted because of unnecessary changes in Ohio's voting laws."

The event brought together voters across a range of ages to highlight how recent bills passed by the General Assembly will affect Ohioans. These bills will reduce Ohio’s early voting period, make it harder to apply to vote absentee, and increase the likelihood that ballots could be thrown out for overly-technical errors.

“As older regular voters, we are greatly disappointed by the actions of the self-absorbed majority in the General Assembly and the Ohio Secretary of State for limiting older voter access and restricting whose ballot gets counted,” said Norm Wernet, President of the Ohio Alliance of Retired Americans. “Shame on them!”

James Hayes from the Ohio Student Association reminded the audience of young voters’ growing voice. “We are the most diverse generation in the history of this country—the most progressive and most technologically savvy too.

And we are organizing to build the power we need to enact our values in the world.”

Speakers at the event also highlighted the numerous legislative proposals that would make elections more convenient and secure, such as online registration and absentee ballot request, greater use of technology to make elections more efficient, and providing local election administrators the tools they need to craft and election system that works for everyone.

“It’s plain and simple,” said State Sen. Nina Turner (D-Cleveland). “Instead of restricting ballot access, we should be empowering voters to speak out and participate in their government.”