Voting is the most fundamental freedom and important tool citizens of a constitutional republic have to hold their elected representatives responsible for faithfully representing their best interests.
But state Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Green Township, is threatening to make election law changes even more restrictive for voters, apparently out of spite.
From the Cincinnati Enquirer (subscribers only article):
Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Green Township, who introduced the election bill with Rep. Sharon Ray, R-Wadsworth, says Democrats are being disingenuous in their critiques.
“The risk that they are taking is that by being disingenuous in their opposition, we might just say, ‘OK, you don’t like a balanced bill, we might just move it in the rightward direction and then give you something really to howl about,’” Seitz said.
It’s not just Democrats who are criticizing Seitz and Ray’s House Bill 294. Good government and voter advocate groups such as the bipartisan League of Women Voters of Ohio and Common Cause Ohio have also raised a variety of concerns, including limiting the number of days for absentee ballot requests.
Yet Seitz wants to give them “something really to howl about,” which can only mean introducing further measures that restrict access to the polls for voters. After all, restrictions on access to voting are what they’re howling about already, as they’ve supported other aspects of the bill that expand access to voters such as online absentee ballot requesting.
Are critics being disingenuous? Critics don’t like the elimination of the Monday before Election Day for early voting. They correctly point out that many people use this day to cast their ballots, and eliminating it restricts voters from doing so. That’s true. Elections officials themselves would like it to be eliminated because they’re so busy already that Monday setting up polling locations. But that doesn’t mean critics being concerned about a loss of a day of voting is disingenuous.
Critics also don’t like the bill for severely limiting drop boxes. Drop boxes make dropping off absentee ballots easier. Restricting them makes dropping off absentee ballots harder. Criticizing the restrictions is not disingenuous. Stoking fear about people cherry bombing drop boxes — which has not happened; elections officials say drop boxes have been very safe — well that is a bit disingenuous. Know who did that? Bill Seitz.
Elections issues are fundamental to the functioning of small-d democracy in America. Elected officials who take themselves seriously, the right to vote seriously, and access to the ballot box seriously, do not threaten voters’ rights because of political gamesmanship.
Threatening to hurt voters because you don’t like being criticized is incredibly anti-democratic, not to mention small-minded, petty and completely lacking in character or any sense of civic duty. A person with such an attitude has no business leading the way on election changes in Ohio, or anywhere else.
David C. DeWitt is an award-winning journalist with over 15 years experience covering Ohio politics and policy. He has worked for the National Journal, The New York Observer, The Athens NEWS and Plunderbund.com covering topics such as education, health care, crime and courts, poverty, government, business, labor, energy, environment and social issues. His work has also appeared in Government Executive, the Columbus Dispatch, Girlfriends magazine, Bleacher Report and the Ashtabula Star Beacon, among others.
This commentary was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.
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