What’s Next in Fixing Ohio’s Election System?

Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial:

Ohio Democrats this year had a legitimate case that the GOP was trying to limit in-person, early-voting options favored by many minority voters and college students — for the brazenly partisan goal of suppressing Democratic turnout. That was reprehensible on the part of Republicans.

But disagreements about voting hours often morphed into talk of outright disenfranchisement — a hard argument to make in a state where people can start voting by mail or at their local boards of elections five weeks before Election Day.

So the first step toward fixing Ohio’s election rules is for everyone to lower their voices, put away the legal manifestos and stop demonizing people with whom they have honest policy disagreements. Then, let’s listen to those who know what they’re talking about.

Start with the bipartisan professionals who have to carry out state laws and directives at the 88 county boards of elections and at individual voting centers; they know what works and what doesn’t. Legislators in Columbus should also enlist legal scholars —-and look to national groups versed in best practices.

Four years ago, then-Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, summoned many of those practitioners to a post-election summit that produced some thoughtful recommendations — many of which died on the partisan battlefield at the Statehouse. Her successor, Republican Jon Husted, says he plans no such public post-mortem, though he would be happy to help organize testimony from “real watchdog groups” when the General Assembly next takes up election law reform.

That’s a big mistake. Husted should welcome a free-wheeling discussion, including with those who criticized him.

The editorial also calls for making the SOS position nonpartisan and getting rid of Tuesday as a single election day.


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