Kent — State Sen. Nina Turner, running for Ohio Secretary of State on the Democratic ticket, said she wants all the voters of Ohio to have the opportunity to cast their ballots, and have them count.
She said she is for extending early voting opportunities such as mailing absentee ballot applications to all voters and extending hours for in-person early voting.
Turner was in Kent Sept. 3, continuing her campaign through Ohio.
She said she is opposed to reductions in voting opportunities being pushed by the Republican-controlled Legislature. The current legislature is rolling back the gains in voting availability that were put in place by a bipartisan legislature after the 2004 election debacle, she said. That year, there were long lines of voters at the polls, and an estimated 180,000 people walked away without voting, she said.
“I tell voters you have less voting opportunity in 2014 than you did last year, and the year before that,” Turner said.
She also is opposed to voter photo identification requirements, saying Ohio already has voter identification laws, and nearly a million voters lack that type of ID “and most of that group are African-American or elderly.”
“We have voter ID laws in Ohio, they’re just not as strict,” she said. Voters can have any of several types of ID, and then have to sign the voting book under threat of jail and fine, she said.
While Republicans talk up the need to prevent voter fraud, Turner said, repeated studies show intentional fraud is rare.
“One study said you have a better chance of being struck by lightning” than of intentional voter fraud, she said.
Turner, state senator from the 25th District that includes eastern suburbs of Cleveland and parts of Lake County, said she would like to expand guarantees that ballots will be counted by reducing the reasons provisional and absentee ballots are rejected.
“I think ballots should not be thrown out because of poll worker error,” she said.
Turner applauded poll workers as dedicated and involved in working elections for a long time.
“Most of these folks want to do well” working an election. “They take this on as a badge of honor,” she said.
“We should count the ballot barring any illegitimacy of the ballot or the voter. But that’s not what we do in Ohio.”
Turner acknowledged her campaign has been affected by problems affecting Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ed FitzGerald.
“It was hard before; it’s even that much more difficult now,” she said. She quoted Winston Churchill, who said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
“This election is not about Ed FitzGerald. This is really about the voters in the state of Ohio having a choice between those who want to build and those who want to destroy. That does not change,” she said.
“The fact that we have a budget that was balanced on the back of poor, middle-class citizens still exists. The fact that we have a legislature that is hell-bent on taking away reproductive opportunities for women still exists. The fact that K through 12 education has been cut significantly since Strickland was in office still exists. The fact that we have a General Assembly that is pushing to make it harder to vote, and a governor that didn’t waste any time in signing those bills, still exists,” she said.
While Republicans are way ahead of Democrats in campaign money, Turner said the election still hinges on voter turnout, and she is touring the state getting people engaged at the grassroots level.
While running elections is the main duty of the Secretary of State’s Office, Turner said she would like to expand the office’s Business Services Division and make it more accessible. The division approves new business filings, files amendments to business records, and keeps the register of Ohio firms.
“Why not allow the Business Services Division to be the bridge of opportunity for businesses?” she said. Of about 100 forms, only about a dozen of the most used ones can be completed online. Turner said she would like to expand that, and add night and weekend computer chat lines for businesses to talk to the office.
And, in some areas without broadband coverage, “If you can’t chat (by computer) you can dial a number and do it the good old-fashioned way” by telephone, she said.
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