ASSSISTANT MINORITY LEADER

SHIRLEY SMITH
THE OHIO SENATE
AUGUST 2011
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PROTECTING VOTERS & ACCESS TO THE POLLS, CHANGES TO EARLY VOTING UPDATING THE OHIO CONSTITUION: THE OHIO CONSTITUTIONAL MODERNIZATION COMMISSION RE-DRAWING OHIO’S CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS SENATOR SMITH STANDS UP FOR OHIOANS, OPPOSES PRIVATIZATION SCHEMES
Want to get in touch with Senator Smith? Use the information below to contact her Columbus office. The Honorable Shirley A. Smith 1 Capitol Square, The Ohio Statehouse Senate Annex, Suite 223 Columbus, Ohio 43215 Email Telephone: 614-466-4857
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Dear Neighbors and Friends,
In my thirteen years as a legislator, I have never experienced a legislative season quite like the one that ended earlier this year. The Ohio Senate has dealt with a myriad of issues that hold important implications for you and your family. House Bill 194 makes significant changes to Ohio’s voting laws. This legislation has significant shortcomings because it restricts access to the voting booth. Provisions that would have required voters to present photo identification at the polls failed to move because of significant public pressure against it. I have also spent a great deal of time working on Ohio’s next two-year budget. As you may have heard on the news, this budget cuts funding for school districts, local governments, and other essential programs. While we have to spend within our means, I believe that it is important to support our historic commitments. Finally, last month I traveled Ohio as a member of the Select Committee on Congressional Redistricting. I will use the testimony that I heard to make sure that the legislature designs fair congressional districts that accurately represent Ohio’s diversity. I am eager to make my voice heard on these important issues, and I want to hear your voice as well. My office is always open to you via phone, email, or postage mail. Never hesitate to contact me regarding your feelings on any issues before the legislature.
Sincerely,

Shirley A. Smith State Senator, 21st District

PROTECTING OHIO’SVOTERS AND ACCESS TO THE POLLS
As the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Government Oversight & Reform, Senator Smith has worked diligently on legislation that will affect Ohio’s elections system. In early May, Senator Smith met with Secretary of State John Husted to discuss elections reform. As former colleagues in the Ohio House of Representatives and the Senate, the Senator was glad to work with him on this issue. She noted multiple concerns that needed to be considered before any bill passed. “There has been no widespread cases of voter fraud to fuel the need for changes to Ohio’s election system,” Senator Smith said. “Ohio’s laws have prevented fraud and abuse, which indicates to me that our system works.” Senator Smith stridently opposed efforts to include I.D. requirements for voting in this bill. She said that it would be tantamount to a modern poll tax that would suppress voting. Though this I.D. provision was removed, House Bill 194 still passed with elements that unnecessarily limit access to the polls. It shortens the Early Vote period, moves the presidential primary from March to May, and prohibits county boards of elections from mailing out unsolicited applications for absentee voter ballots. Senator Smith voted against H.B. 194, saying that she fears this bill will make it more difficult for registered voters to participate in Ohio elections. A referendum on the issue may be presented to voters this November.

CHANGES TO EARLY VOTING OHIO ELECTIONS
Early Voting In Person Down to 17 Days

IN

WHAT
TO

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BRING

VOTE EARLY

Previously, anyone wishing to vote early in-person absentee could do so up to five weeks before the election. Now this time frame has been shortened to seventeen days, with no voting on Sundays and only half-days on Saturdays. There will be no in-person absentee voting during the weekend directly prior to the election.

Early Voting by Mail Reduced to 21 Days
The time frame for voting early by mail has been shortened to 21 days from 35 days, severely reducing the opportunity and convenience of voting early. This change will likely affect elderly and disabled voters who cannot stand in long lines on voting day.

Registered voters may vote early by mail and in person. Voters must file an application for an absentee-voter’s ballot, which can be secured from the Secretary of State’s website or your county Board of Elections. This application requires the voter’s birthdate and one of the following:
• An Ohio driver’s license number, • A valid U.S. Passport, or • A copy of a current, valid photo I.D., a mili-

Early Voting: Current Law Compared to Old
35 Days 21 Days 17 Days

tary I.D., or a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows
New Law: Early Voting by mail begins. New Law: Early Voting in person begins.

Old Law: Early Voting in person and by mail began.

the voter’s name and current address.
ELECTION DAY!

35 Days

21 Days

17 Days

The absentee-voter’s ballot may be returned that day or mailed to the county Board of Elections before Election Day.

UPDATING THE OHIO CONSTITUTION
On June 28, Senator Smith and her Senate colleagues approved legislation that will create the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission. This commission is charged with conducting an indepth review of the Ohio Constitution, promoting an exchange of ideas, considering problems related to the process of amending the Constitution, and issuing recommendations to the General Assembly. The Commission’s purpose would serve as a preparatory body to a convention (should one be called in the 2012 election), and a revisory body to advise the legislature with respect to needed changes. The Commission will consist of 32 members: 12 appointed jointly by the leaders of the Ohio General Assembly, those 12 then appointing an additional 20 members (not from the General Assembly) by a majority vote. Members will serve without compensation, except for expected expenses. Recommendations for the Commission’s report would require a large, bipartisan two-thirds vote of the membership. Given Ohio’s unique history and future challenges, the Modernization Commission will provide us with a forum within which to reexamine the fundamental question of what kind of basic legal framework should guide Ohio’s government and its citizens. Ohio voters can look forward to reviewing these new ideas in the years to come.

RE-DRAWING OHIO’S CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS
SENATOR SMITH TOURS OHIO AS MEMBER OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Every ten years, after the release of the U.S. Census, the Ohio legislature makes changes to Ohio’s Congressional districts based on changes in population. Senator Smith, along with four other state senators, was appointed to the Ohio Senate Select Committee on Redistricting, which, with five Ohio Representatives, heard and considered public testimony on the important topic of redrawing those political districts. Senator Smith and the other committee members traveled around Ohio in July and August and listened to public testimony on drawing Ohio’s new congressional boundaries. Hearings were scheduled in Columbus, Zanesville, Lima, and Cincinnati, as well as Cleveland State University, the heart of Senator Smith’s district. At each of these stops, members of the public and governmental representatives urged the committee to support a fair and transparent redistricting process that places partisanship aside. "Redistricting must be a fair and open process that respects the great diversity in our state,” Senator Smith said. “I encourage the residents of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio to join me in speaking up for fair representation in Congress.” The 2010 Census revealed that Ohio’s population growth was slower than that of most other states. This slow growth means that Ohio will lose two of its eighteen Congressional districts. To eliminate these districts, lawmakers are expected to closely examine Cuyahoga County due to its continued decline in population. Unless a referendum is held on new election laws that were recently passed, the committee’s work must be completed by early February so that congressional candidates can file in the newly drawn districts. If you would like to try your hand at this complicated and important issue, the 2011 Ohio Redistricting Competition, presented by the League of Women Voters, Ohio Citizen Action, and the Midwest Democracy Network, allows Ohio citizens an interactive redistricting experience. Citizens can draw their own maps and enter them for a chance to win cash prizes. More information can be found at www.drawthelineohio.org.

SENATOR SMITH STANDS UP FOR OHIOANS, OPPOSES PRIVATIZATION SCHEMES
On June 8th, Senator Smith voted against House Bill 153, the operating budget for Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013. Though she tried improving the legislation by offering amendments on a myriad of topics, Senator Smith said that she could not support a budget that sells state assets, downsizes valuable public agencies, and harms our children’s education. reform and the recommendations of the Council of State Governments.” Senator Smith opposed the budget cuts made to the Office of Ohio’s Consumers’ Counsel. “This organization has saved Ohioans more than $3 when there are so many unanswered questions about the environmental and economic ramifications of this proposal,” said Senator Smith. “The state does not even know how much control it has over the mineral rights within certain areas of our parks.” She also noted that there is uncertainty regarding how much revenue this proposal was expected to generate.

Helpful State Numbers
Agriculture Consumer Info 800-282-1955 Attorney General Richard Cordray 614-466-4320 Child Support Hotline 614-752-9743 Civil Rights Commission 888-278-7101 Consumer Protection 800-282-0515 Crime Victim Assistance 800-582-CVSS Environmental Complaints 800-282-9378 Golden Buckeye Card 800-422-1976 Health Dept. Complaint Hotline 800-669-3534 Help Me Grow Helpline 800-755-GROW Home Energy Assistance Program 800-282-0880 Dept. of Job and Family Services 800-686-1556 License Plate Info 800-589-TAGS Lottery—Customer Service 800-686-4208 Medicaid Hotline 614-728-3288 Missing Children’s Clearinghouse 800-325-5604 Ohio Tobacco Quit Line 800-QUIT-NOW Ohio Turnpike Info 88-TURNPIKE Road Condition Hotline 888-2-OH-ROAD State Highway Patrol Highway Help 877-7-PATROL State Highway Patrol DUI Hotline 800-GRAB-DUI Tax Questions 800-282-1780

Senator Smith In a speech to also spoke out her colagainst educaSenator Smith talks to her colleagues about the leagues, Senational funding shortcomings of the new state budget. Click here or tor Smith sinin the bill. “We on the image above to watch the speech. gled out the are instituting sale of Ohio’s prisons, the billion on their utility bills policy that punishes disOhio Lottery, the Ohio by doing the job that it’s advantaged children for Turnpike, and liquor prof- supposed to do,” said their hardships and abject its. “We are selling off Senator Smith. “It has conditions,” Senator some of our best assets proven to be a great asset Smith said. “And guess under the guise of getting for the state. Yet it is be- what - all of this is justithe best bang for our ing strangled, and robbed fied in the name of rebuck,” she said. Senator of money that protects our warding excellence.” Smith noted that a grow- people from those who Senator Smith concluded ing body of research don’t want oversight.” her speech with a request shows that there are no She also called for the re- to her fellow senators: clear advantages to privat- moval of language that “Rather than urge you to ized prisons. She also would open up Ohio’s vote for this budget or said that prison privatiza- parks to oil and gas drill- against it, I would suggest tion seemed “contrary to ing. “It puzzles me why you vote in a way that you the hard work that’s now we would want to have can sleep at night.” being done on sentencing drilling in our state parks

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