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Ohio voting reform stalls

It’s too late to make major changes to Ohio’s election system that would take effect this fall, but elections officials say the legislature still should enact reform measures this year,   There is time, meanwhile, for the legislature to meet an Aug. 4 deadline to put a constitutional amendment on the fall ballot to change how the state redraws legislative districts.

Although legislative leaders aren’t touting it publicly as a priority, behind-the-scenes talks continue, and some progress has been reported.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner convened two summits after the 2008 presidential election that recommended a host of election changes, including eliminating the five-day “golden week” overlap between the start of early voting and the voter-registration deadline, and expanding early-voting sites.
The goal is to reduce the problems and lawsuits that have marred recent high-profile elections, which experts say undermine voter confidence in the process and outcomes.

That could include making it easier for voters to correct mistakes on their registrations and applications for absentee and provisional ballots or clarifying the rules to reduce the number of provisional ballots cast.
But Norden agreed with Brunner that the legislature should act this year, even if some major changes aren’t made until future elections, because it’s difficult to predict what might happen next year in a new legislative session.

“The danger is there that if we don’t resolve these problems, that we’re just going to see more uncertainty, more litigation, and it’s just really bad for the system,” Norden said.
Brunner also said she hopes the legislature will vote this year to put a redistricting issue on the ballot that takes some of the politics out of the line-drawing process after each decennial census.MORE


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