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Ohio Secretary Firm On Allowing Early Voting

For Immediate Release September 22, 2008

Secretary Brunner Files Reply in Lawsuit

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Filing an answer to a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of Ohio Monday, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner strongly reaffirmed her directive (Directive 2008-65) recognizing Ohio’s longstanding administration of the state’s election laws that allow Ohio citizens to both register and receive an absentee ballot at a time when both are permitted by state law.

The Ohio GOP lawsuit attempts to close the door on certain Ohioans’ access to early voting. This is one of a series of 11th hour attempts to inject confusion and chaos, recreating a replay of Ohio’s widely criticized 2004 presidential election. The Ohio GOP seeks to ban eligible Ohio citizens from registering and voting during what is known as a 5-day overlap between the start of absentee voting (Sept. 30, 2008) and the close of voter registration (Oct. 6, 2008).

Despite Secretary Brunner’s and Attorney General Rogers’ attempts to bring parties to the table to discuss differences and avoid litigation, and despite the fact that the laws in question were the creation of a Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly, the Ohio GOP has decided to fight it out in court.

“In a year when Ohio’s state and local election officials are undertaking Herculean efforts to prepare for an unprecedented turnout in Ohio, we cannot afford partisan attacks on the rights of eligible Ohioans to register and vote,” Secretary Brunner said. “This latest attempt to stop some Ohioans from voting is truly unfortunate. Ohio continues to be a major focus for the rest of the country, and I believe Ohioans want to be known as a state that honors the right to vote with full access for all eligible citizens."

“Elections should be won on robust discussion and evaluation of candidates and issues, and not on the basis of procedural maneuvers that thwart the rights of some citizens to vote,” Secretary Brunner said.

In Secretary Brunner’s answer to the lawsuit, she notes that the overlap in question has been recognized, without problem, since 1981. Former Secretaries of State, including Tony Celebrezze, Sherrod Brown, Bob Taft, and Ken Blackwell, allowed Ohioans to register to vote and complete an absentee ballot during the overlap period. This is the first presidential election since the General Assembly passed no-fault absentee voting.

ENDS

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