A Coalition Strives to Ensure All Can Vote

Petee Talley, center, with Norm Wernet, left, of Alliance for Retired Americans, and Lucas County Commission Lisa Sobecki

The Truth Staff

A coalition of labor unions and community organizations are partnering with the Toledo Lucas County Public Library in an effort to assist local voters to understand new registration and voting requirements to ensure that anyone who wishes to vote can do so in the August 8 primary election

To that end, a community service one-stop event will be held this Saturday at the Main Branch Library so people can get their birth certificates and list of secondary documents in order to obtain a state photo ID and register to vote.

During a press conference on Monday to announce plans to assist voters, representatives of the coalition member organizations emphasized that with recent changes in Ohio law, it is essential to reach out to those groups at greater risk of losing their right to vote – senior citizens, people of color and college students, for example.

Under the new law in the State of Ohio, people must have an Ohio Driver’s license, State ID card, passport or passport card, US military or National Guard ID, or Veterans Affairs ID card in order to vote early in-person or on Election Day.

“We want to raise awareness about changes to our election system,” said Petee Talley of the Unity Coalition. “The Ohio Legislature put up new barriers to voting, and many voters are unaware of the new photo ID requirements that have changed since the last election when they voted Early in-person at the Board of Elections or at their polling place on Election Day. We, along with organized labor, the NAACP, Jobs With Justice, the Alliance of Retired Americans, and the Ability Center have a responsibility to the community, and are organizing to make sure that we help as many people vote as we can reach.”

The representatives of the Coalition said that, along with the Saturday learning session at the Library, they and volunteers will be going into neighborhoods and knocking on doors to ensure that as many people as possible know what they need to do to vote, particularly in the August election.

The Ohio legislature not only rendered it more difficult to obtain the proper documentation to register and vote, but they also created a special election in August in order to change the percentage of voters’ approval necessary to add amendments to the state constitution. For citizen-generated amendments, the legislature is asking voters to set the bar at 60 percent approval for amendments. Placing this on a typically low-turnout August special election is a way of improving the odds for the Republican legislators to have their way with this initiative.

“The greater good here is that we give some predictability and stability to focus on what the Constitution is going to say,” said Senate President Matt Huffman, a Republican, at the time of passage in the upper chamber. Citizens don’t always know what they want, he added. “We don’t want a temporary emotion of a majority to change or take away folks’ rights. That happens all the time. It’s called the tyranny of the majority.”

In the immediate future, the Ohio Republican Party members fear that a majority of Ohioans might well want women to be able to make their own decisions about their bodies. Much better that a few men in Columbus make such decisions for them.

“We are going to educate people,” said Lucas County Commissioner Lisa Sobecki. We will not let our community members be disenfranchised.”

The Coalition is comprised of the Toledo Branch NAACP, the Ohio Unity Coalition, the Greater Northwest Ohio Central Labor Council, Jobs With Justice.

This Saturday’s event at the Main Branch Library will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Glass Conference Room.