Group discusses voting concerns

By Marc Kovac

Opponents say the plan opens the door to election fraud.

COLUMBUS — Safeguards already exist to stop Ohioans not eligible to vote from casting ballots, and the state’s political leaders should refrain from turning same-day registration into a partisan issue, leaders from Ohio and U.S. League of Women Voters groups told reporters Wednesday.

“We believe this is a wonderful opportunity for all citizens,” said Linda Lalley, president of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. Lalley joined Deidra Reese, executive director of the Ohio League, and Mary Wilson, president of the national group, during a press conference at the Statehouse on Wednesday, where they answered reporters’ questions about a five-day window in which some residents feasibly could register for the November election and cast an early ballot in the same day.

The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 6. Under a new state law that went into effect in 2006, any Ohioan also can request, obtain and then cast an absentee ballot anytime after Sept. 30. During the interim between those to dates, residents could attempt to complete both processes at the same time.

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner earlier issued a directive to county elections boards, directing them “to develop procedures to immediately register the applicant and issue an absentee ballot” while “reserving the right to delay registration and immediate absentee voting if a board is not satisfied as to the validity of the application and the applicant’s qualifications.”

Republicans have said it was not the intent of the law to allow voter registration and early ballot casting in the same day. They believe the setup opens the door to elections fraud, potentially allowing individuals to vote multiple times or use the names of dead people in order to cast ballots.

Last week, Brunner issued another directive on the issue, requiring residents registering to vote and then casting absentee ballots to do so on paper ballots, thus providing a means for their later removal if they are ruled ineligible to participate in the election.

Lalley said that decision will ensure ineligible Ohioans’ votes aren’t counted.

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