One Democratic state senator who has been very outspoken when it comes to how elections are handled in Ohio says voters in the Buckeye State need to be protected. And as Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports, Senator Nina Turner is pushing a seven point plan to reform the election system.
State Sen. Nina Turner says Ohio's secretary of state, Republican Jon Husted, paints a rosy picture of the 2012 election. But she says reality shows some voters in some areas were frustrated when casting their ballots.
TURNER: "I was out there with the people wrapped around for blocks and blocks, in front of Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, out there trying to vote. So he may be able to paint a rosy picture, but when I talk to voters, when I look in the eyes of voters standing out there 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 hours, for three hours, for four hours, that is not a rosy picture, something is wrong."
Turner says she has the 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 -- three days that were mandated by court order in this past election. She, once again, takes Husted to task for his insistence to treat all of the boards of elections the same during the past election.
TURNER: "Now uniformity has been bandied about like it’s the Holy Grail. Uniformity doesn’t equate to fair access for all Ohio voters. Uniformity aims for the lowest common denominator."
Turner says what works in a small rural county isn’t what works in a big county like Cuyahoga. 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.
KOVAC: "It sounded an awful lot like someone who was in the race. Is that not the--."
TURNER: "You interpreted it that way?"
KOVAC: "A lot of people on Twitter interpreted that way, too."
TURNER: "They interpreted it that way, too?"
KOVAC: "Was that not your intent?"
TURNER: "Well, I just, I sent out a fundraising letter."
For his part, Husted says his role right now is not the same as Turner’s.
HUSTED: "I implement the law. They are the ones that need to make the law."
Husted says he upheld the law when necessary and complied with court rulings when they were handed down. But he says there’s no reason to paint him as someone who wants to limit opportunities for voters.
HUSTED: "I support early voting. Did I support weekend voting? I’m going to work with Democrats and Republicans to try to come up with a compromise that will make expanded voting hours something that the people of Ohio have enjoyed and they'll continue to enjoy. Frankly, I think reasonable people will disagree over the costs and when it should happen. I will support anything that Democrats and Republicans can work to find a compromise on, so that we can avoid these contentious battles every four years during the presidential election. And that’s my position."
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.