Cuyahoga County Council Approves Voting Rights Amendment
News Desk | 8/13/2014, 10:32 a.m.
"Over the years, our state has established a long tradition of preserving and expanding the right to vote for all of its citizens," said FitzGerald. “While I am disappointed that some in our state government are trying to make it harder for working families to vote in 2014, I take great pride in the fact that Cuyahoga County is standing strong today to ensure that all of our constituents will be able to exercise this most essential democratic right. And make no mistake – we are going to continue doing everything we can to get this ballot measure approved in November and guarantee that the right to vote is protected in Cuyahoga County.”
FitzGerald’s legislation places a question on this November’s ballot that will ask Cuyahoga County voters to approve a new Charter amendment asserting that the right to vote is fundamental and authorizing the County to take action to protect and promote the right to vote, including official actions to promote voter registration and early voting in Ohio’s most populous county.
The Voting Rights Amendment was submitted to Council by FitzGerald last May after Governor John Kasich, Secretary of State Jon Husted, and members of the Ohio General Assembly took a series of actions to eliminate early voting days, prohibit local boards of elections from sending vote-by-mail ballots to registered voters, and impose tougher restrictions on casting provisional ballots.
Republicans in the General Assembly initially threatened to eliminate as much as 10% of the funding for Cuyahoga County’s Local Government Fund after FitzGerald proposed the Cuyahoga County Voting Rights Law to ensure all registered voters continue to receive vote-by-mail applications regardless of state government restrictions. However, state lawmakers backed down from their threat after FitzGerald requested a Department of Justice investigation into allegations of voter suppression in Ohio. County Council subsequently approved FitzGerald’s Voting Rights Law.
As the debate over early voting has continued, FitzGerald directed the Cuyahoga County Law Department to file an amicus brief to support the NAACP’s lawsuit to restore early voting and the “Golden Week” that allows citizens to register and vote early in the same day. Just two weeks ago, the Justice Department also announced that it would support the NAACP’s suit to ensure the protection of voting rights in Ohio.
Councilwoman Sunny Simon is an original co-sponsor of the Voting Rights Amendment. The full text of FitzGerald’s proposal, as approved by Council, is attached to this email.