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Last week, I started my Election season travels with a trip to Ohio! After getting to Columbus late Wednesday night, my first full day in Ohio got off to a great start with a radio interview on Ohio public radio on the challenges voters will face during this election because of all the attempts by Ohio politicians to manipulate election laws for their own gain. The League in Ohio, along with its coalition partners, has been very successful in pushing back these attempts. As a result, Ohioans will be able to vote early and will not have any changes in their voter identification laws, and the Ohio League is telling voters: voting is as easy as 1-2-3.
In addition to protecting voters’ rights, the League, as part of the Voters First Coalition, successfully put a constitutional amendment on the ballot this November to reform Ohio's redistricting process through the state’s referendum process. Redistricting is the ultimate means for politicians to manipulate the vote by controlling who their voters are, but in Ohio citizens are trying stand up to this corrupt process. But just getting the signatures on petitions to get the amendment on the ballot is not the end of the story. The Ballot Board, which is chaired by the Secretary of State and composed of two Democrats and two Republicans, drafted the summary of the ballot measure, known as Issue 2. The language was so misleading that the Ohio Supreme Court rejected it. On Thursday, the Ballot Board met to rewrite the language and the League was there. With the Secretary of State breaking every tie, the language went from misleading to downright confusing. In November, Ohio voters will have to slog through long paragraphs of legalese in order to vote on this very important reform.
In addition to the important work of speaking with the media and elected officials, I was pleased to able to attend a gathering of the Metro Columbus Leagues at the Clintonville Women's Club. We had a fascinating discussion about bringing civil discourse back to political discussion. The event was very well attended with lots of new and prospective members! I got a chance to speak to two wonderful members of the Chillicothe LWV, who had traveled the farthest for the event. I was especially interested to learn that Chillicothe is considered a bellwether during an election; the candidates spend so much time there that local residents get tired of seeing them!
I finished my trip with brunch with League members from the Dayton area. This trip has been remarkable; in three short days I’ve met with League members, elected officials, and coalition partners. We know that the election in November will be one of the most important of our lifetime, which is why it was so incredible that over and over, I heard what a central role the Ohio League has played in protecting the vote. Whether it was testifying in the state legislature or gathering signatures or spurring the effort to reform redistricting, the League is a major resource for Ohioans, and I'm so proud I was able to witness their influence firsthand.