Registered voter could be denied ballot access from jail in Ohio - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Registered voters could be denied ballot access from jail

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Should people who find themselves in jail just before the election be allowed to vote?

A non-profit public interest group thinks so.

The Cincinnati based Ohio Justice and Policy Center is asking the Secretary of State to make voting accessible for people who get locked-up the weekend before election day.

Under Ohio law every eligible person has the right to vote except for felons serving time.

The Center's Executive Director, David Singleton, says even people locked up in pre-trial detention have that right.

"People are presumed innocent when they're arrested," he said. 

Singleton says he has sent a letter to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted asking that pre-trial detainees have access to a ballot or be slapped with a lawsuit.

"There are a certain number of people who are going to plan to vote in person and they get arrested they should have an option to be able to vote," he said. 

FOX19 Legal Analyst Mike Allen says the Policy Center has a valid point.

"These individuals have a right to vote and I think a case can be made that they need to be provided the tools to be able to do that," said Allen. 

Hamilton County Democratic Party Executive Director and County Elections Board member, Tim Burke, also supports the Policy Center's initiative.

"It would not be very difficult for the Board of Elections to do that. We do it right now for people who end up in the hospital, for example, unexpectedly on election day," said Burke. 

In our commitment to balanced news, FOX19 talked to Alex Triantafilou, the chair of the Hamilton county GOP, who is also on the county's Board of Elections.

"I think it's ridiculous. I think it's a request for special treatment," he said.

Triantafilou says he doesn't mince words when it comes to voting access for inmates.

"Our suggestion is don't get arrested. We think this is the kind of rhetoric that's unnecessary in a campaign like this and it is never easier to vote than it is this year," he said.

It's not clear how much it would cost the state to provide inmates access to a ballot, but there are those who believe that right shouldn't be dependent on a price tag.

The Ohio Secretary of State's office says inmates, as long as they aren't felons serving time, can vote absentee by mail as long as their request is received by noon Saturday, Nov. 1. 

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