The 2004 Ohio election had many problems1. A citizens group, Reform Ohio Now, got four issues on the ballot for Tuesday’s (November 8, 2005) election to address some of the problems2. The issues are:
- Issue 2 – Vote by Mail: In the 2004 election many Ohioans waited in line over an hour, some as long as ten hours, to vote3. Thousands left the long lines without voting. Issue 2 would allow any voter to vote by mail within the 35 days before election day.
- Issue 3 – Limit Campaign Contributions: In the year after the 2004 election, news reporters exposed much corruption involving the winning politicians and their contributors. One large contributor and fund-raiser, the coin dealer Thomas Noe, got $50 million of the state’s worker’s compensation program money to put into rare coins4. Many coins went missing and the state is now investigating him for stealing millions5. Governor Bob Taft was convicted on four counts of failing to report gifts from contributors6. Issue 3 aims to slow large contributors by lowering the contribution limit for state-wide races from $10,000 to $2000, and by reinstating the ban on corporate contributions.
- Issue 4 – Stop the Political Gerrymander: In the last four elections, no incumbent US Congressmen from Ohio lost7. The ruling party draws the legislative districts to win as many as possible. This results in ‘gerrymanders’ such as the 13th congressional district, which corrals Democratic-voting precincts while snaking from Lorain to south of Akron. Issue 4 would give redistricting authority to an independent board, which would do its first redistricting before the 2008 election.
- Issue 5 – State Board of Elections: In 2004 Kenneth Blackwell, as Secretary of State, was in charge of administering the election, while he also served as a co-chairman of President Bush’s campaign in Ohio. His actions served to suppress Democratic party votes. For example, he made a late decision that provisional ballots could only be issued to voters in the correct precinct, a rule which was more restrictive than the prior Ohio standard8. Issue 5 would move authority for administering elections to a bi-partisan board, much like the boards of elections that are in place in Ohio’s 88 counties.
After a problem-ridden election in 2004, Ohio voters can, one year later, vote on possible solutions.
Ohio 13th Congressional District
Issues pros and cons + links to ballot language – THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF OHIO
1 ‘Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio’ – Status Report of the House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff, January 5, 2005
3 ‘Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio’ – Status Report of the House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff, January 5, 2005 “Numerous irregularities were reported throughout Ohio. In particular, in predominately Democratic and African-American areas, the voting process was chaotic, taxing and ultimately fruitless for many. The repeated and suspicious challenges of voter eligibility and a lack of inadequate number of voting machines in these areas worked in concert to slow voting to a crawl, with voting lines as long as ten hours.”
4 ‘The Noe File’ (Coingate Timeline) – The Toledo Blade, 2005-10-28 “April 3, 2005: The Blade reports the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation invested $50 million in rare coins with Maumee coin dealer Tom Noe, a prominent GOP donor and a Bush “Pioneer” for raising at least $100,000 for the President’s re-election campaign.”
5 ‘The Noe File’ (Coingate Timeline) – The Toledo Blade, 2005-10-28 “Sept. 29, 2005: Attorney General Jim Petro accuses Tom Noe of stealing millions from the state’s coin funds. Mr. Petro, in a lawsuit, charges that Mr. Noe engaged in check forgery, presented false profits, and stole millions from the state’s $50 million rare coin investment.”
6 ‘The Noe File’ (Coingate Timeline) – The Toledo Blade, 2005-10-28 — Aug. 18, 2005: Governor Taft pleads no contest and is convicted of four ethics violations for not properly reporting gifts. He becomes the first sitting Ohio governor convicted of a crime. He is fined $4,000 but avoids jail time.”
7 ‘OHIO Rankings 2004′ – fairvote.org “In 1992-1994, five incumbents lost their seats. Since then 70 of 71 incumbents have been re-elected.”
8 ‘Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio’ – Status Report of the House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff, January 5, 2005
“Mr. Blackwell’s decision to restrict provisional ballots resulted in the disenfranchisement of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of voters, again predominantly minority and Democratic voters. Mr.Blackwell’s decision departed from past Ohio law on provisional ballots, and there is no evidence that a broader construction would have led to any significant disruption at the polling places, and did not do so in other states.”
* * *
By Quinn Hungeski – Posted at G.N.N. & TheParagraph.com
I’m strongly for 3, 4 and 5. I’m against 2 because it could open the door to coercion and vote-selling. I think that issue 5 would help the problem of long lines by better and more fair distribution of voting machines, and less tolerance for disruptive partisan challenges of voters.