In Party-Line Vote, Cuyahoga Council Moves FitzGerald's Absentee Ballot Measure Toward Final Passage

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The measure would give the council's blessing for FitzGerald -- who is running for governor -- to mail absentee ballot applications. Doing so would possibly conflict with a newly passed state law saying only the secretary of state may mail unsolicited applications.

GOP Councilman Jack Schron, who's running for county executive, questioned law director Majeed Makhlouf over whether this set up a showdown with the state.

"Are you stating, though, that this will open us up potentially to litigation and then spending taxpayers' money to then defend ourselves in the litigation?" Schron asked.

Makhlouf said any time the county has invoked home rule, it could possibly have ended up in a lawsuit with the state.

Republicans also suggested this bill treated residents of the same Congressional district, but different counties, differently.

Democrats said the county ought to push to ensure its residents have access to absentee applications. One of the Democrats arguing in favor was newly appointed Councilman Anthony Hairston.

"I've seen firsthand the effects as the ward leader -- I've served last four years in Cleveland ward 10 -- the effects of not receiving that application to their home," Hairston said. "The drop in numbers of voter participation has happened in my ward alone."

All eight Democrats voted move the measure along toward final passage. All three Republicans voted against. Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, has said in the past that he will send out absentee ballot applications statewide this year.

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