COLUMBUS – State Rep. Michael Stinziano (D- Columbus) released the following statement on the decision by President Obama’s campaign to file suit in federal court to restore early voting during the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day.
“I applaud the lawsuit that was filed by the Obama campaign to restore voting rights to Ohioans. When I co-sponsored HB 224 with Rep. Dovilla to protect voting rights for Ohio’s men and women in uniform, we took that responsibility very seriously. I never thought that this common sense solution to a known voting issue created by outdated Ohio law would then be used to take away voting rights from properly registered Ohio civilians.
“Never in the debate about HB 194 or HB 224 was there a purposeful effort to create two different deadlines during the early voting periods - particularly for voters in identical circumstances. All voters who are located in their county of residence on the weekend and Monday before voting should have the exact same early voting period. This local control standard is ideal to address each county’s needs for a smooth and efficient election. Having two non-uniform periods of voting for civilian and military voters lacks any common sense and does nothing but confuse voters and create unnecessary problems for voters and election officials.
“Colleagues in both chambers supported protecting military voting rights when they voted for HB 224. However, it remains ridiculous how some members of the General Assembly have twisted some last minute technical amendments into a way to take away the voting franchise of properly registered Ohio voters.
“As the former Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, I have seen and experienced firsthand the importance of an efficient early voting period. In 2008, roughly 93,000 voters appeared at their early vote center during the last three days of early voting prior to Election Day. Unfortunately, instead of building on this success and a desire for a smooth election day, there are apparently policy makers who prefer the long election lines encountered in 2000 and 2004 and are fighting to limit voting rights instead of expanding them.
“Fortunately, the Supreme Court said in Bush v. Gore that every voter is entitled to equal protection of the laws of this country. That means that similarly situated voters must be treated similarly. The new lawsuit highlights the lack of justification or sound election policy for having two different early vote periods.”