COLUMBUS, Ohio – As the nation recognizes the birthday of its most renowned civil rights hero and martyr, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., state and federal constitutions throughout the country remain void of any specific protection for the right to vote. State Rep. Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) is changing that. Today he introduced a joint resolution to give Ohio voters the opportunity to vote on a proposal to secure that right in the Ohio Constitution.
"All eligible Ohioans should be able to rest assured that no one can take away their right to vote. This constitutional amendment is basic, and many Ohioans would be surprised to know it’s not in the state constitution. There should be no fear in placing this before the voters of Ohio before the constitutional review commission completes its work. It’s a matter of good faith,” said Stinziano.
According to the joint resolution: "Every elector has the right to vote in the exercise of political power.”
The joint resolution defines electors as Ohio residents who are 18 and it entitles them to vote at all elections.
To fight alleged voter fraud, the joint resolution says that any elector "who knowingly votes more than once in an election shall be disenfranchised, subject to restoration by a court of competent jurisdiction."
The joint resolution also calls for an audit of the election results if the difference between the number of votes between the top two candidates is less than 1 percent. Requiring in the state constitution an audit in close races is critical to protecting public trust in the most basic democratic process—voting.
If Stinziano’s proposal to amend the state constitution is adopted by a three-fifths vote in both chambers of the General Assembly by July 2013, the joint resolution would be placed before Ohio voters as soon as the November 2013 election.
“Why wait?” said Rep. Stinziano. “Why should Ohio, at “ground zero” in nearly every presidential election, continue to face the questions of the nation? Let Ohioans create for themselves in their constitution the right to vote, forging a guidepost for protecting our democracy for future generations.”
Stinziano, a lawyer and a Certified Elections/Registration Administrator, the highest professional achievement for election officials, issued by The National Association of Election Officials, is the former director of the Franklin County Board of Elections and served on the legal staff in the office of former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.
Stinziano provided testimony for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution this past May on Ohio’s voting rights law.