State Rep. calls for federal election monitors

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - State Representative Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) along with area clergy and community leaders are urging U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to send federal election monitors to Ohio for the general election this November.

Rep. Reece called the Attorney General's attention to two federal court decisions in Ohio that have the potential to cause confusion for voters with in-person early voting and casting provisional ballots. Both decisions have been appealed by the Ohio Secretary of State, leaving voters unsure of their voting rights for this election.

Reece says "I'm very concerned with all the confusion. There's been a ton of new rules, new laws, voter suppression laws."

The Reverend Carlton Threatts of Christ Memorial Baptist Church says Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is trying to keep some people from voting. "I believe he's trying to find every way possible to suppress the vote to turn it the other way."

Reece and area leaders held a press conference in Bond Hill on Wednesday morning, where they announced they had sent a letter to Holder.

"We need to ensure that Ohio has a smooth and fair election this November. These two federal court decisions are a step in the right direction for voters in Ohio, but the appeals processes are confusing for voters. The presence of federal election monitors will help restore the integrity of the voting process. The entire country is looking at Ohio. We must get it right," said Rep. Reece.

In our commitment to balanced news FOX19 reached out to Hamilton County GOP Chair Alex Triantafilou who says the monitor request is ridiculous. "This is nonsense. It has never been easier to vote than it will be in Ohio in 2012."

Triantafilou says Reece's letter is just a political ploy. "This effort by the democrats to engage in this political tactic is wrong and it scares voters."

He also points out that an application for an early ballot has been mailed to every voter. In addition, Triantafilou says voters can cast their ballots for any reason up to 35 days before the election.

The Hamilton County Board of Elections has installed a 24/7 drop box where any voter can drop their ballot.

Here is the full text of the letter:

Dear Attorney General Holder, 

I am writing to make you aware of the urgent and troubling issue in Ohio regarding extended in-person early voting hours and provisional ballots. As you may know, there have been two federal court decisions recently that will have enormous impacts on voting in Ohio this November.

The first is a decision ruling that Ohio's provisional ballot counting process is unconstitutional. The judge ordered the simple solution that provisional ballot envelopes include a checklist for poll workers to follow. This would remedy the high numbers of ballots thrown out in 2008 due to poll worker error by documenting poll worker errors and allowing the votes of eligible voters to be counted in this election. Almost, 40,000 provisional ballots were thrown out in the 2008 election. Additionally, a juvenile court race in Hamilton County that was voted upon by citizens in my district in 2010 was not decided until May of this year because of problems with the way provisional ballots were counted. The State of Ohio and the Ohio Secretary of State have filed an appeal in the case, continuing to push the issue even though a common sense solution has finally been found.

The second decision regards the issue of in-person early voting. A federal judge ruled that Ohio must re-instate the last three days of in-person voting the weekend and Monday before the election. The Ohio Secretary of State is also appealing this decision. He sent a directive ordering Boards of Elections not to set hours for the last three days until after the appeal was decided. He only rescinded the order after the judge ordered him to appear in court because of issuing the directive. In 2008, 93,000 Ohioans took advantage of in-person early voting on the three days in question.

I would ask for your help in bringing a fair and balanced approach to the election in Ohio this November. Both of these decisions have been appealed which has created an atmosphere of uncertainty and confusion for voters in Ohio. I am concerned that problems will arise in the election this year. Thus, I am requesting the United States Department of Justice send federal election observers to Hamilton County and all of Ohio to monitor the upcoming 2012 election. The presence of federal observers will help restore the integrity of the voting process and will prevent the citizens of Ohio from being denied their democratic right to vote.

I look forward to hearing your response to my request soon.

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