Voting Rights Advocates Urge Election Officials to Fund Early Voting Ads
ELECTION BOARD’S ABRUPT DECISION TO ABANDON PLANS FOR ADS DOES A DISSERVICE TO VOTERS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 4, 2018
COLUMBUS — A coalition of Ohio voting rights organizations sent a letter today to the Franklin County Board of Elections, encouraging officials to reconsider its sudden move to pull back funding for television and radio advertising promoting the Nov. 6 general election and opportunities to vote early before Election Day. The board deadlocked on a proposal to spend up to $275,000 on advertising, a reversal in recent trends. In 2014 and 2016, the board spent $658,000 and $325,000, respectively.
“At a time when many voters may be confused about where to find credible, accurate information about their voting rights, the Franklin County Board of Elections’ role in public education is critical,” said Mike Brickner, Ohio State Director for All Voting is Local. “Misinformation can spread easily, and elections officials are uniquely positioned to ensure voters know their rights.”
“One of the most common reasons voters are disenfranchised is due to confusion over the rules and deadlines,” said Camille Wimbish, election administration director, Ohio Voter Rights Coalition. “The board spent more than twice as much in the last gubernatorial election than what was proposed at their board meeting. To completely defund advertising leaves a massive hole in voter education efforts.”
“Our democracy is strengthened through strong voter turnout, but first voters need clear information on electoral logistics,” said Jennifer Miller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. “Empowering and educating voters is money well spent, and we encourage Franklin County to continue such outreach this election.”
Groups note in their letter that media coverage often focuses on campaigns and issues — not on the rules and deadlines for voting. Meanwhile, partisan groups and campaigns often focus their efforts on voters in their political party, meaning independent, third-party, and infrequent voters could be most disadvantaged by the board’s decision.
Infrequent voters who have missed at least one election may not have received an absentee ballot application from Secretary of State Jon Husted. The coalition estimates that there may be as many as 162,000 such voters in Franklin County.
The letter can be read in its entirety here.
About the Ohio Voter Rights Coalition
The Ohio Voting Rights Coalition (OVRC) is a non-partisan network of local, state, and national voting advocates. Members supporting this proposal include: ACLU of Ohio, Advancement Project, All Voting is Local Ohio, Council on American-Islamic Relations Ohio—Columbus Chapter, Common Cause Ohio, Fair Elections Center, League of Women Voters of Ohio, Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates, and Policy Matters Ohio.
All Voting is Local fights for the right to vote through a unique combination of data-driven organizing, advocacy and communications. It is a collaborative campaign housed at The Leadership Conference Education Fund, in conjunction with Access Democracy; the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation; the American Constitution Society; the Campaign Legal Center; and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.