We wish to thank Ms. Jane Buder Shapiro, who is the President of the Shaker Heights Democratic Club for allowing us attend a meeting on Sunday night, June 8th, which was held at the Zanzibar Restaurant in Shaker Square. We wanted to attend this meeting because we wanted to hear what State Senator Nina Turner, candidate for Secretary of State and former Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper, candidate for Attorney General, had to say about the new and proposed controversial changes to Ohio’s voting laws.
Before the program started, we visited with several members including a person associated with Metro Health who thanked Margaret W. Wong and Associates for assisting them with matters involving employees who have immigrated to the United States.
When the program started both Senator Turner and Commissioner Pepper expressed serious reservations about because they felt that they would hinder Ohioans opportunities to vote. They didn’t believe that voter fraud, that is often cited as a reason for the new reforms, was that serious of a problem and that the efforts by the state to establish more uniform voting procedures among the counties by restricting the hours that people could vote at their local Boards of Election might sound good on paper but were questionable in practice.
Senator Turner had previously talked about this in an interview for “Nation” magazine published in February 2014 in which she said that “I truly believe that fairness and equality does not mean uniformity, it means understanding the diversity of the electorate.” On Sunday night Senator Turner compared Ohio’s largest county which is Cuyahoga County with 1.3 million people to its smallest county which is Vinton County with only 13,000 people and said that with today’s technology the entire citizenry of Vinton could vote in just four hours but it would be impossible for the entire citizenry of Cuyahoga County to do this.
Another issue of concern was that after 2014 the procedures for mailing out absentee ballot applications would be tougher; to summarize briefly, people will then have to specifically request one instead of an application being automatically sent out by the county just as is done with other voter information.
Commissioner Pepper pointed out that one of the reasons that so many precincts were either combined or eliminated was that early voting took the pressure off people to vote on election day but if early voting were to be significantly curtailed then prospective voters might face long lines on election day due to the reduced number of precincts.
Commissioner Pepper and State Senator Turner contended that this was not a Democrats vs. Republican issue. For example, Commissioner Pepper said that one thing that he takes exception to is making it more difficult for third parties like the Green Party and the Libertarian Party to qualify to be on the ballot.
Senator Turner said that we want to make sure that everyone has the right to vote and all the votes get counted and that includes “red” (i.e. republican), “blue” (i.e. democrat) and “a little R & B” (i.e. whatever). She concluded by saying “we want to put the ‘swing’ back in the swing state.”