Elections law should be a positive step

Published 9:16 am Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Many of those here in Lawrence County objecting to the Ohio elections reform bill awaiting the governor’s signature should be challenged as to their motivation, because many opponents to the law are concerned far more with political power than they are voter access.

The law passed the House recently despite strong Democratic opposition and awaits Gov. John Kasich’s final approval. The reform is fairly far-reaching. It has been praised by Secretary of State Jon Husted and should have an overall positive impact on the elections process, both locally and statewide.

Much of the local objection comes from the fact that a clause in the bill says all precincts must have a minimum of 500 registered voters.

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Only one of Ironton’s 25 precincts have more than 500 registered voters, meaning many of these will likely be combined. Because each precinct has its own central committee person that could mean the western portion of the county is going to lose some representation on these boards that handle key appointments such as the recent one naming Bill Pratt as Lawrence County Commissioner.

This could equalize to some degree the balance of power on the Republican and Democrat central committees from the long-time Ironton base to the eastern end of the county.

But the bottom line is this helps the bottom line.

This will save the county tens of thousands of dollars and eliminate some precincts in the city, South Point and Chesapeake.

Many of these polling places may have voter turnout that falls far short of even 100 voters.

The law also will allow Ohioans to register to vote or change their address online, a much needed step to bring this process into the 21st century.

A little discussed portion of the bill would eliminate contesting voters based on political affiliation, which many believe will open up Ohio primaries to more voters on either side of the aisle who simply want to vote for the best candidate.

Politics aside, this reform package helps streamline Ohio’s elections system while still helping to ensure that every vote counts. That is what reform is all about.