CLEVELAND—Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald has announced a series of actions aimed at protecting the voting rights of residents.
"Governor Kasich and Secretary Husted's actions will make it harder for working men and women to cast their votes this November," said FitzGerald, who was joined at Thursday's press conference by State Senator Nina Turner, Urban League President Marsha Mockabee, and other community leaders. "With Ohioans facing so many other urgent challenges, it is inexplicable that some elected officials are so clearly focused on cutting back voting rights. As we have done in the past, this administration will stand up to protect the rights of all citizens in Cuyahoga County."
During Thursday's press conference outside the Board of Elections, FitzGerald announced plans to introduce legislation before the Cuyahoga County Council to override the state's directives and ensure that Cuyahoga County continues to mail absentee ballot application to registered voters. In addition, the County Executive will introduce a charter amendment adding voter protection and the promotion of access to the ballot as core functions of the county government – ensuring these rights are also protected under future administrations.
With the new restrictions on absentee, early and provisional voting rights expected to most significantly impact minority and urban voters, FitzGerald has directed the Cuyahoga County Department of Law to issue formal public records requests to Boards of Election in the counties of Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Montgomery, Lucas and Summit, allowing the County's Law Department to analyze data correlating voting patterns to zip codes and demonstrate the likely effects.
FitzGerald also announced the formation of a volunteer Voter Protection Task Force, led by Subodh Chandra, Donald McTigue and Fred Livingstone, that will assist the Law Department in its continued efforts to fight the state's actions.
"During my time with the County, this is the fourth time that the State has forced us to have to take action to protect our citizens' right to vote," added Cuyahoga County Law Director Majeed G. Makhlouf. "We thank this great team of legal experts who have stepped up to volunteer their time and expertise to assist our efforts to protect our citizens' constitutional right to vote and our home rule powers as a charter county. We will do everything in our power to protect this most essential democratic right."