COLUMBUS— State Representative Paula Hicks-Hudson (D - Toledo) wrote today to Secretary of State Frank LaRose demanding immediate action to increase capacity in counties where voters are waiting hours in traffic and long lines to vote. Over the weekend, voters in Cuyahoga County waited in a line that extended onto a freeway exit ramp. In her letter, she also decried the disinformation being spread at Early Voter Centers about voter ID. Early voters are permitted to either show a physical document OR provide the last four digits of their Social Security Number to receive a regular ballot. Many are being told incorrectly that they must show a physical ID.
Said Rep. Hicks-Hudson:
“There is one week of Early Voting left and I don’t want to see my constituents waiting an hour or more while voters in other counties breeze in and out in five minutes. This was not only foreseeable, it was foreseen – by everyone. The Secretary needs to take emergency measures around the state to stop this unfair, unequal treatment.”
See the letter below:
October 27, 2020
Dear Secretary LaRose,
Since early voting began October 6, we have seen record-setting levels of enthusiasm all over the state. Over this first weekend of early voting, we saw voters turning out by the thousands in some counties. While the sight of people exercising their rights is an inspiring one, the sight of people lined up down a freeway exit ramp is a deeply concerning one. That’s what we saw in Cuyahoga County and it is unacceptable.
When one is hosting an event, they request RSVPs to get a head count for planning purposes. For instance, if you have a facility that only can accommodate 150 people, it would not be wise to invite 1,000 of your closest friends to your event because the space would not accommodate such a crowd. As Secretary of State, you are the de facto host of Ohio’s election. You knew, based on the historic response we have seen in absentee ballot requests and increases in voter registrations, that this election was going to see larger than usual crowds. You should have planned for long lines like this by having overflow space, additional parking, more voting machines and extra staffing. Your failure to do so is unfortunate and has resulted in voters leaving lines because they could not afford to wait.
When voters finally make it to the check-in desk, they are asked for restrictive forms of ID and not informed that they can simply provide the last four digits of their Social Security Number. This is troubling because voters could leave the line after waiting all that time and the community gets the mistaken impression that one must have a physical ID to vote. Many young people, many poor people, many elderly people do not have a physical ID card or do not have a printer to print an alternative document. They rely on the simplicity of Early Voting. It needs to be communicated to voters in these long early voting lines that they are able to fill out an absentee ballot application if they prefer to go that route.
Secretary LaRose, I encourage you to do the right thing and create a more efficient voting experience for all Ohioans – many of them first time voters who we want to remain engaged in their democracy, not turned away from it. With 7 days of voting left for this election, there is still time for you to fix this problem. As we get closer to Election Day, lines are likely to grow, not dwindle. This situation requires your immediate attention.
State Representative, District 44
Chair, House Democratic Caucus COVID-19 Elections Working Group