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Government and Politics

Cleveland state Sen. Nina Turner proposes election changes
Turner says she saw plenty of lines and other signs of troubled voters in the November election

Jo Ingles
Urban counties, including Stark, saw lines at boards of elections in November. Rural counties saw few.
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In The Region:

A Democratic state senator from Cleveland who has been very outspoken when it comes to elections says voters in the Buckeye State need to be protected. And as Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports, Sen. Nina Turner is pushing a seven-point plan to reform the election system.

Ingles on election changes

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State Sen. Nina Turner says Ohio Secretary of State, Republican Jon Husted, is painting an unrealistically rosy picture of the 2012 election. She says the reality is that some voters in some areas were frustrated when casting their ballots.

“I was out there with the people wrapped around for blocks and blocks, in front of Cuyahoga County Board of Elections,... trying to vote.  ... When I talk to voters, look in the eyes of voters standing out in the cold, grandmothers standing out there, babies standing out there, that does not paint a rosy picture.  When voters have to stand in line for two, three or four hours, something is wrong.”

Turner says she has a plan to make sure all Ohio voters are treated fairly.  It includes easing provisional voting, allowing online changes to voter registration, and putting into law a three-day voting period the weekend before election. Those three days were court ordered in this past election after the state law barring the weekend voting was struck down.

Uniformity is not necessarily fair
Turner takes Husted to task for his insistence to treat all of the boards of elections the same during the past election.

“Now uniformity has been bandied about like it’s the holy grail. Uniformity doesn't equate to fair access to all Ohio voters. Uniformity aims for the lowest common denominator.”

Turner says what works in a small rural county doesn't work in a big county like Cuyahoga.

A candidate?
When Turner talks these days, she sounds like a candidate for Secretary of State.  And she was asked by Copley News Statehouse Reporter Mark Kovac about a recent fundraising letter she sent.

Their exchange:
“It sounded an awful lot like someone who was in the race.”
“You interpreted it that way?”
“A lot of people on twitter interpreted that way, too?”
“Well…I sent out a fundraising letter.”

Implementing the law
For his part, Secretary of State Husted says his role right now is not the same as Sen. Turner’s.

“I implement the law.  They are the ones who need to make the law.”

Husted says he upheld the law when necessary and complied with court rulings when it handed down orders.  But he says there’s no reason to paint him as someone who wants to limit opportunities for voters. 

“I support early voting.  I support weekend voting.  I’m going to work with Democrats and Republicans to come up with a compromise that will make expanded voting hours something that the people of Ohio have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy. Frankly, I think reasonable people will disagree over the costs and when it should happen."
But "I will support anything that Republicans and Democrats can work to find a compromise  that we can avoid these contentious battles every four years during the presidential election.”

As far as uniformity, Husted thinks all voters in all counties should have equal access to the polls, but he says that doesn’t mean he wants to take away popular voting opportunities.

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