Dem Candidate Calls For Federal Investigation Into Ohio Voting Restrictions

Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald votes at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland, Tuesday,
Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald votes at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland, Tuesday, April 1, 2014. It was the first day of early voting for the May 6, primary on Tuesday. FitzGerald faces Larry Ealy in the primary with the winner taking on incumbent Republican Gov. John Kasich in November. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald (D-Ohio), who is running to unseat Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), continued his battle against voting restrictions with a Tuesday announcement that he is asking the federal government to investigate efforts by state lawmakers to limit voting this election cycle.

In a press release, FitzGerald said the catalyst for his request is a measure Kasich signed banning county boards of elections from sending absentee ballot applications to registered voters. A state House amendment would impose a 10 percent cut in funding on any county that sends out such applications unsolicited.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) announced in February that voters won't be able to vote on Sundays before November's general election, while Kasich signed a measure eliminating the so-called "Golden Week" during which voters can both register to vote and cast an early ballot.

"As a former FBI agent, this is not a decision that I make lightly, but a thorough investigation is clearly warranted to examine the recent actions that would make it harder for working men and women to vote in 2014," FitzGerald said in the release. "I am especially disappointed that, unless they get their way, some politicians in Columbus are willing to hold hostage taxpayer funds that help ensure public safety here in Cuyahoga County. It is disturbing that anyone in government would use these funds as a political bargaining chip to get their way."

State lawmakers have argued that the restrictions establish uniformity between urban and rural counties, though in his letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, FitzGerald said that rationale was merely a "pretext" and that state Republicans are intentionally working to "suppress voting by urban and minority voters."

The Columbus Dispatch reported Tuesday that Husted is opposed to the state House amendment that would cut local government funds.

"There is no reason to cut their local government fund -- to punish the citizens for the errors of their leaders," Husted told the paper. "The bottom line with this is our constituents don’t need to suffer in any way for the bickering going on over this issue."

FitzGerald is working to increase his name recognition as he narrowly trails Kasich in recent polling.



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