Protecting Voting Rights

 
 

Government should preserve and protect the right to vote. It should never make voting more difficult.

As your Congresswoman, I will support the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which ensures that the right to vote is never stripped away from eligible voters by unfair or biased laws. The Voting Rights Advancement Act is the Congressional response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder, which struck down key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and removed federal protections for voters. Currently, almost all House Democrats have signed on in support of your rights. Unfortunately, no Republicans have joined this fight. Instead, many Republicans support voter ID laws, which are ostensibly designed to combat voter impersonation fraud. However, this type of fraud rarely happens -- research has shown that since 2000, there have been only 31 incidents of voter impersonation out of over 1 billion ballots cast. Instead of combatting a real problem, voter ID laws end up disenfranchising large amounts of legal voters from exercising their constitutional right to participate in our democracy.

The State of Voting Rights in Ohio

Ohio has a number of restrictive laws including reduced early and weekend voting hours, restrictive voter ID measures, and oppressive absentee and provisional ballot rules. These measures make it difficult for individuals to exercise their right to vote. For example, in 2014 Ohio's SB 238 eliminated "Golden Week," the 7 day window where voters could simultaneously register to vote and cast an in-person ballot. This period was utilized by seniors, the homeless, new Ohio residents, people with disabilities, and people with a lack of transportation as a flexible way to register and vote at once. SB 238 eliminated this opportunity. Instead of instituting rules that suppress voting, Ohio's lawmakers should make voting more accessible to its citizens. Moreover, the federal government as a whole must take an active role in preventing states from curtailing Americans' voting rights.

I also oppose Ohio’s practice of purging inactive voters from its voter rolls. Your right to vote in every election should not be dependent on whether or not you’ve voted in the last election. Currently, anyone who hasn’t voted in the last two years, doesn’t respond to a warning, and then doesn’t vote in the next four years is automatically unregistered. This violates the National Voter Registration Act and Ohio is currently being sued by the Phillip A. Randolph Institute for this infringement of basic American rights -- the Supreme Court will hear the case later this year. The Justice Department has recently filed a brief supporting this purge. This is a disturbing reversal of their stance under the Obama Administration. In Congress, I will work to ensure that all eligible Ohioans, and all eligible Americans, will have the opportunity to vote.