Last Ditch Efforts To Fight New Early Voting Rules

Political junkies are now temporarily turning away from the swing state of Ohio and to the swing state of Florida, as the Republican National Convention gets underway.Two new polls show the presidential race remains close in Ohio, and so does the US Senate contest. Ohio’s importance to both presidential campaigns is obvious when you look at the schedule of speakers at the conventions.

This was another big week in voting-related news and lawsuits. Two Montgomery County Board of Elections members were temporarily reinstated after being suspended for voting to extend early voting hours - after Secretary of State Jon Husted issued a directive establishing uniform statewide hours. Board member Dennis Lieberman said he thought they could add weekend hours to the Secretary of State's directive of weekday hours, but Husted said he was clear in his order. Other Democrats are angry with Husted about his decision not to allow a repeal of the controversial package of election-law changes known as House Bill 194 would not be on this fall’s ballot. The reasoning was that state lawmakers themselves repealed House Bill 194 with a new law that took effect on the same day that the Ballot Board met. The group Fair Elections Ohio now says it will sue, and co-chair Jennifer Brunner - who was Husted's Democratic predecessor - explains why. And the group pushing for a constitutional amendment to create a citizens' commission to draw districts for state and federal lawmakers is also suing. Voters First says the language that will be on the ballot as Issue 2 is misleading. And in the midst of all of this – a quote in a news story about early voting that stunned some people - a comment about changing the voting rules and the "urban - read African-American - voter turnout machine. It came from Franklin County GOP chair Doug Preisse, a member of the Franklin County Board of Elections and a close ally of Gov. John Kasich.

Ohio’s economic news continues to get better bit by bit. The state’s unemployment rate for June was at 7.2 percent, down a tenth of a point from May. And tax revenues for July came in five percent above estimates, which is leading state budget experts to predict a surplus. And that fuels speculation that tax changes, and perhaps an income tax cut, might be in the works. A conversation on tax reform in Ohio concludes with Kevin Holtsberry, the president of the conservative think tank the Buckeye Institute, and Dale Butland, the communications director for Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank.

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