Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Cuayhoga County executive Ed FitzGerald is criticizing a pair of new elections rules, saying they infringe on voting rights.
Nick Castele of member station WCPN in Cleveland reports.
FitzGerald says he’ll ask Cuyahoga County Council to take up legislation saying it’s within the county’s home rule authority to send out absentee ballot applications. That runs against a new bill signed into law by Gov. John Kasich that says only the Ohio legislature can approve mailing voters unsolicited applications.
FitzGerald is also protesting Secretary of State Jon Husted’s decision to set early voting times that don’t include Sundays. FitzGerald says that would make it harder for low-income and African-American Ohioans to vote—but he says before filing a lawsuit, he’s collecting data on whom the change would affect.
“This is a very transparent and blatant attempt to make it more difficult, especially for lower and middle-income individuals and families to vote,” FitzGerald said.
A Cleveland State University study of 2008 voting patterns in Cuyahoga County found early in-person voters in the county were much more likely to be African-American. It also found that black voters were just as likely to vote early on weekdays as on weekends.
Matt McClellan, a spokesman for Jon Husted’s office, says the voting hours were recommended by the bipartisan professional group that represents boards of elections in the state.
“The hours for in person absentee voting that were announced this week are based on the bipartisan proposal put forward by the Ohio Association of Elections Officials,” he said.
That group’s president described the decision as a difficult but fair compromise.