Rep. Stinziano Statement for US Senate Committee on Voting Rights

State Representative Michael Stinziano

Statement for the Record

U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution

Civil Rights and Human Rights

Hearing on Ohio’s Voting Law-HB 194

May 7, 2012 

Thank you Chairman Durbin, Senator Brown and members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights for holding this hearing examining Ohio’s voting law, Ohio House Bill 194 (HB 194), and for giving me the opportunity to submit my comments for the record. 

My name is Michael Stinziano and I proudly serve the residents and businesses of Franklinton, German Village, The Hilltop, Lockbourne, Merion Village, Obetz, Schumacher Place, The University Community, Victorian Village, Westgate, and Southern and Far South Franklin County in the Ohio General Assembly.  

Before being elected to the Ohio House, I worked as Assistant to the General Counsel for Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and served as Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections. 

As a member of the Elections Center of the National Association of Election officials and a Certified Election/Registration Administrator, and an attorney working with election law, I believe I have a unique understanding of election administration across the county and the impact of HB 194 will have given my experience interpreting, administering and helping to craft election laws.

I have serious ongoing concerns regarding HB 194 and the impact this law will have on election administration and voters throughout Ohio. 

Although there are many concerns with this broad and sweeping proposal, my chief concern with HB 194 is the loss of control that is being stripped from local boards of election. HB 194 reduces the number of early voting days from 35 to 17, eliminates voting on the weekend before the election, removes the mandatory requirement that poll workers shall direct voters to their proper precinct and prohibits county boards of election from mailing unsolicited absentee ballots, among other harmful changes to what had previously stood as Ohio election law. 

As the former Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, the 24th largest election jurisdiction in the country, I know firsthand just how important the aforementioned provisions are to increasing voter participation, reducing lines on Election Day and ensuring that every vote is counted in Franklin County. I also recognize what works in Franklin County may not work in other areas of the state. 

All elections, like politics, are local at their core. That is why giving local boards of elections the ability to implement administrative polices that they are able to decided upon which work in the best interest for their communities should be of the utmost importance when considering election administration changes. Forcing one set of generic rules on every board of election without considering the individual community needs will inevitably result in many of the same disastrous problems Ohio saw during the 2004 election. 

Inevitably, HB 194 without significant changes will result in more litigation which will only add to the confusion of election administrators and voters. Many of the issues that have and will arise from HB 194 should have been avoided with legislation crafted through collaboration with local boards of election; voter rights advocacy groups, and the recommend changes made by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. Instead, HB 194 is a “one size fits all” law crafted in the belief that all elections should be administered in a way that assumes all counties are equal in size, scope and needs not proven facts, real needs, or recent Ohio history. 

Thank you again for holding this hearing on this crucial issue in our state. 

Please feel free to contact me if I can assist in any way.