March 30, 2020
Jen Miller; firstname.lastname@example.org
ACLU Ohio, Dēmos, and Lawyers' Committee File Lawsuit on behalf of Ohio League of Women Voters & Ohio APRI Challenging Ohio's `New' Primary
COLUMBUS - Today the ACLU of Ohio, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Dēmos filed a lawsuit on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute, and several Ohio voters, challenging H.B. 197, legislation that established a `new' primary election, which is set to occur on April 28. The voting rights organizations contend that the timeline and process the legislature laid out for conducting a cumbersome vote-by-mail process in one month's time, and the fact that the bill sets the voter registration deadline 70 days before the new primary date, will prevent thousands of eligible citizens from casting a ballot and unconstitutionally burdens the right to vote.
H.B. 197 is a broad coronavirus relief bill that was signed into law by Governor DeWine on Friday, March 27. Notably, before the legislation was passed, both Secretary of State Frank LaRose and the bipartisan Ohio Association of Election Officials noted that April 28 did not give them enough time to conduct an election.
Plaintiffs ask the court to:
order county board of elections to directly mail primary ballots to all registered voters who have not already cast a ballot in this election, return postage pre-paid; allow voters who do not receive a ballot in time to vote at the board of elections; select an election date that would allow elections officials enough time to effectively administer the election and inform voters about how the primary election will proceed; and set the registration date 30 days prior to the primary date, as required by federal law. "Under the General Assembly's undemocratic election scheme, thousands, if not millions, of Ohioans will not get to vote through no fault of their own," said Jen Miller, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. "Ohio's inefficient absentee voting system wasn't designed for this massive scale, especially under such an impossible timeframe. We call on the justice system to ensure that Ohio's primary is constitutional and accessible."
"Many historically disenfranchised communities are not unaccustomed to voting by mail and may have difficulty navigating the process in this extremely short timeline. The right to vote is sacred and should be treated as such, "said Andre Washington, State President of the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute.
"Ohio's new set of rules for the primary election will disenfranchise voters on a staggering scale. The process is a clear violation of the NVRA; we demand that the eligible voters who registered to vote between February 19 and March 30 be registered and able to vote in this primary. There is no justification for this ill-conceived law. There is nothing that can possibly excuse the barriers it places in front of Ohioans who want to exercise their basic right to vote," added Freda Levenson, Legal Director for the ACLU of Ohio.
"This public health crisis should not also be a crisis for our democracy. When elections move our Constitution still protects all of us," said Naila Awan, Senior Counsel at Dēmos. "The state must hold a 2020 primary election that makes voting accessible for all eligible Ohioans, especially Black and brown voters who too often are pushed to the sidelines of our democracy by obstacles such as arbitrary voter registration deadlines or burdensome procedures for voting absentee or at the polls."
"The law is crystal clear and Ohio officials have run afoul of the law by failing to reopen the registration window for people across the state," said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. "Moreover, states like Ohio must fully comply with the law to ensure that people have full access to the ballot box in the wake of the current public health crisis, by not erecting unnecessary obstacles to their voting by mail, which land particularly and heavily on low-income voters who are disproportionately people of color. We ask that the court compel Ohio's officials to act in accordance with settled law and the Constitution, and to take simple steps that will ensure that all Ohioans can exercise their right to vote, and to do so safely."
League of Women Voters of Ohio 100 East Broad Street Suite 1310 | Columbus, Ohio 43215 614-469-1505 | email@example.com
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Call Governor DeWine (614-466-3555) and your State Senator. Look up your State Senator.
Support local governance of schools. Keep the HB154 language in the budget.
Use public funds to support public school children. Don't expand vouchers.
This is crunch time for the state budget. Please call today!
Protect the right to peaceful protest!
Act now to stop Ohio Senate Bill (SB) 250, which criminalizes the right to peaceful protest at oil and gas facilities in Ohio deemed "critical infrastructure projects". SB 250 also makes it illegal to fly aerial drones over such facilities. This legislation was drafted by "dirty energy" industries in reaction to protests against large pipeline projects, and is a copycat bill of others drafted by those same officials across the country.
Act now and let your elected officials know that you want to them vote NO on SB 250.
Talking points against SB 250 It will criminalize peaceful protest. The Ohio Revised Code already includes laws that criminalize the damage of private property. It hinders the work of undercover journalists and activists working to expose illegal activity. It would make industries feel safer in committing serious environmental crimes and endangering Ohio's land and water. Find your legislators contact information here and call them now!
LWVO Advocacy Team League of Women Voters of Ohio | 614-469-1505 | http://www.lwvohio.org
Complete information available here.
State Senate candidates are invited to discuss job and vocational training, healthcare/Medicaid, accessibility issues and education.
Prior to the event, starting at 5:00 p.m., State Representative candidates will be will be available to meet.
We need all League members to contact members of the Oho senate to ask that they veto SB85. Use the information from the Education Committee report. The consensus was that vouchers are not an effective and efficient way to meet our Constitutional obligations for public education. Facts about performance and cost are found in the report. There is also a list of effects upon Ohio's public schools.
The immediate problem is to stop SB85 from passing that would open up all districts to massive use of vouchers through upping the eligibility for "opportunity scholarships" (vouchers). The bill, which has been passed out of committee, would create the Opportunity Scholarship Program and establish scholarships worth up to $5,000 for elementary and $7,500 for high school tuition. Families whose household income is at or below 400 percent of the poverty level would be eligible for the scholarships. A family of four with an annual income of $98,400 would qualify for the scholarship program, if the legislation is approved.
Please note that support for this bill has been well organized beginning as early as late May: the first item on a Google search is a call by parochial schools to have parents contact members of the senate committee to support the bill. We are late and I apologize but we need to act. This effects us all as a drain on all our schools operating funds.
The audience will explore: