By The Associated Press
Cleveland Plain Dealer. October 29, 2023.
Editorial: Frank LaRose’s stealth purge of voters right before the Nov. 7 election
The Ohio Secretary of State has a responsibility to keep the voting rolls up-to-date and accurate. No one disputes that. But Frank LaRose’s decision to push through a purge of 26,666 Ohio voters on Sept. 27, five days after the military and overseas voting process began for the Nov. 7 election — without, it would seem, the usual advance notice to community groups to help ensure accuracy and public awareness — raises red flags.
And the voter removals would have been larger but for September and/or October elections in three large counties — Cuyahoga, Lucas and Summit – that meant those counties won’t see voters purged until after the Nov. 7 election, LaRose’s office says. The list of voters slated for those purges does not appear to have been posted on the secretary of state’s website, adding to more questions of “Why not?”
In fact, why couldn’t the whole process have been delayed until after the general election? That’s how last year’s purge was handled — a purge not finalized until after the general election and not carried out until February of this year, after careful vetting of the names.
This latest purge had originally been scheduled for July 20, but LaRose delayed it to Sept. 27 after the Aug. 8 special election was set. Yet the military and overseas absentee voting process for Nov. 7 started Sept. 22, so the purge happened while that was underway. Why not push the whole matter off until after Nov. 7?
Explanations from LaRose’s office citing federal deadlines don’t quite add up.
State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney, a Westlake Democrat, first flagged timing of the latest purge in an Oct. 20 letter to LaRose, calling it “a purge of choice.”
In his Oct. 24 response, LaRose wrote that this latest purge wasn’t carried out under Ohio’s “supplemental process” for cleaning up voting rolls, as the last one was, but under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) process “required under both federal and state law.”
The federal NVRA, LaRose asserted, provides “a limited timeframe during which our Office is permitted by federal law to conduct updates to the voter rolls in order to ensure the accuracy of Ohio’s registration records.” He added that, in nonfederal election years. it “may not occur within 30 days of an election, but it may occur at any other point of the year.”
That “may” is significant, however.
U.S. Department of Justice guidance on the NVRA suggests the key requirement for updating the voting rolls is that it be completed 90 days prior to federal primary and general elections — a deadline that won’t fall for Ohio until late December of this year — at least 90 days prior to March 19, when Ohio’s 2024 federal primary is slated to be held.
In pertinent part, the DOJ NVRA guidance states: “Section 8 (of the NVRA) requires States to complete any program the purpose of which is to systematically remove the names of ineligible voters from the official list of eligible voters not later than 90 days prior to the date of a primary election or general election for federal office. This 90 day deadline applies to state list maintenance verification activities such as general mailings and door to door canvasses. This 90 day deadline does not, however, preclude removal of names at the request of the registrant, removal due to death of the registrant, removal due to criminal conviction or mental incapacity of the registrant as provided by State law, nor does the deadline preclude correction of a registrant’s information.”
In other words, states retain a lot of flexibility. Yet that would seem to include the flexibility to carry out an NVRA voting roll cleanup after Nov. 7, as long as it’s completed by Dec. 26.
Nor do LaRose’s explanations reveal why the process has seemed rushed and stealthy, without what has become a customary attempt to publicize in advance the voters’ names being removed so community groups can help verify the list’s accuracy and publicize the process, and so voters who wish to do so can take the necessary action to remain on the active rolls.
Frank LaRose owes it to the 26,666 voters he just removed from Ohio’s voting rolls, including more than 2,000 in Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina and Portage counties, and thousands more in Franklin and Hamilton counties, to explain clearly why it had to be done now, in this way, and without, it would seem, the usual advance notice.
Columbus Dispatch. October 26, 2023.
Editorial: Issue 1 opponents want Ohio to have the most extreme abortion ban in US. Don’t let them.
“We encourage Ohio voters to cut through the scare tactics and make a decision that not only aligns with their beliefs but the facts,” Dispatch Editorial Board writes.
Opponents claim the proposed abortion and reproductive rights constitutional amendment on the Nov. 7 ballot is too extreme and will slam the door on compromise.
The trouble with that argument is that those same opponents – among them Ohio Right to Life, Center for Christian Virtue and a host of anti-abortion politicians that include Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine – were behind one of the most extreme abortion bans in the nation.
Ohio’s now paused heartbeat law offered no exception for incest or rape and prohibited virtually every Ohio abortion when cardiac activity is detected – typically at the six-week mark. That’s long before most women know they are pregnant.
Through the heartbeat law, the Ohio anti-abortion movement’s goal to remove choice was all but achieved for a short time in 2022. Ohio’s abortion ban was in effect for 82 days before a Hamilton County judge put it on hold.
It may soon resurface. The conservative-leaning Ohio Supreme Court held arguments in the case last month.
Is the abortion access amendment too liberal for Ohio?
In April, DeWine, who signed the “heartbeat bill” into law in 2019, called the proposed abortion access amendment too liberal for Ohio, but urged lawmakers to look at the law to see if it was “sustainable.”
“It doesn’t do any good to have a law on the books and then voters say, ‘Well, we don’t like that law,’ and have it be overridden by a law that doesn’t really fit Ohio,” he said at the time.
Ohio’s anti-abortion lawmakers did not heed the governor’s warning.
They have no room for compromise when it comes to reproductive freedom. Which is why the issue is being taken out of their hands and taken directly to the people.
The proposed abortion amendment is not perfect – language could have been inserted to stifle misinformation on parental consent, for instance – but it is not too liberal.
It will give Ohio what the vast majority of voters say the state needs in poll after poll: safe, legal abortion.
A “yes” vote on Issue 1 would enshrine rights to abortion, contraception, fertility treatment and miscarriage care into the Ohio Constitution.
Pushed by Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, Issue 1 is a reaction to the “heartbeat bill” and the decades-long effort to stamp out all legal abortion here.
The majority of Ohioans consider the clear and consistent position anti-abortion activists have expressed extreme.
Ohio voters support choice and reproductive freedom. We agree.
About 58% of Ohio v oters supported the proposal to enshrine abortion access in constitution, according to a recent USA TODAY Network/Suffolk University poll.
In a 2022 poll by those same organizations, 84% of likely Ohio voters supported abortion exceptions incest or rape victims. Just shy of 70% opposed a ban on abortion after fetal cardiac activity is detected — usually around six weeks.
Anti-abortion activists know this.
The fear of the people’s will is why anti-abortion politicians worked so hard – some intentionally gaslighting or otherwise misleading Ohioans – to change the voting threshold for amendments through the sinister special ballot initiative voters soundly rejected in August.
It is why Ohio’s Republican-controlled ballot board replaced the word “fetus” with the phrase “unborn child” in the amendment’s ballot language.
Abortions can now be performed in Ohio up to 22 weeks, the same as before the fall of Roe, because a Hamilton County judge placed the “heartbeat law” on hold in September 2022 after several abortion clinics sued.
The traumatizing consequences of that law were on full display after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022.
Most famously, a 10-year-old Columbus girl was thrust into the spotlight after she had to travel to Indiana for an abortion because she could not get one here. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and others cast doubt on the girl’s existence before details emerged.
Her rapist, 28-year-old Gerson Fuentes, was sentenced in July to life in prison with the possibility of parole after a minimum of 25 years.
That 10-year-old was far from the only one impacted.
The law had exceptions for threats to the mother’s life or health, but many doctors were confused about when to apply them.
Dr. Adarsh Krishen, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, told members of our editorial board the “heartbeat bill” led to intrusive testing for many patients and “confusion and chaos in the medical community.”
The financial expense of an abortion included travel expenses, missing work and childcare for those already mothers, he said.
“There were lots of moments of having to listen to patients’ agonizing stories of why they needed this healthcare,” Krishen said. “It just continued to cascade and exacerbate the challenges that patients had accessing high-quality health care within their own community which is where healthcare is best served.”
As is their right, anti-abortion activists will not stop their pursuit of a total abortion ban.
Many of these activists believe as is their right that life begins the moment an egg is fertilized by a sperm in the fallopian tubes. Intentionally ending that life for nearly any reason – rape, incest, and in some cases, the health and life of the mother included – is unacceptable to them.
“We value human life from the very moment of conception. When you do devalue life at any stage, whether that’s life in the nursing home or homeless life on the street, that devalues life for all of us.” Peter Range, CEO of Ohio Right to Life, told members of our editorial board. “Every life conceived is made in God’s image and likeness. It is born with a purpose and mission.”
These powerful groups have deep convictions – some held for moral and religious reasons – that life begins at conception and abortion is murder. That’s their right.
Their right should not trump the rights of other Ohioans who have convictions – some for moral and religious reasons – that abortion should be safe and legal in Ohio.
We respect the positions of those against abortion access but affirm an individual must have dominion over his or her own body, including their reproductive system.
We value choice – that is that one’s views on abortion, like the call to have one or not, is a very personal decision that should be left up to the pregnant woman.
We are not trying to tell anyone how to feel about abortion. It is a personal choice.
We can however tell you that Issue 1 has been mischaracterized as part of a dirty war waged over control of the bodies of pregnant Ohioans.
Issue 1 Ohio summary: Here’s what the amendment will and will not do
There has been much misinformation about Issue 1.
The roughly 200-word amendment will not open the door for limitless late-term abortions as some opponents have claimed.
The truth is plain: the power to determine if an abortion can be performed would be taken from legislators and placed with medical experts and Ohio women.
The amendment, which differs from the ballot language, reads:
Be it Resolved by the People of the State of Ohio that Article I of the Ohio Constitution is amended to add the following Section:
Article I, Section 22. The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety
A. Every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to decisions on:
continuing one’s own pregnancy;
miscarriage care; and
B. The State shall not, directly or indirectly, burden, penalize, prohibit, interfere with, or discriminate against either:
An individual’s voluntary exercise of this right or
A person or entity that assists an individual exercising this right
unless the State demonstrates that it is using the least restrictive means to advance the individual’s health in accordance with widely accepted and evidence-based standards of care.
However, abortion may be prohibited after fetal viability. But in no case may such an abortion be prohibited if in the professional judgment of the pregnant patient’s treating physician it is necessary to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health.
C. As used in this Section:
“Fetal viability” means “the point in a pregnancy when, in the professional judgment of the pregnant patient’s treating physician, the fetus has a significant likelihood of survival outside the uterus with reasonable measures. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.”
“State” includes any governmental entity and any political subdivision.
D. This Section is self-executing.
Abortion in Ohio
The point of viability – when the fetus can live outside the womb – is around 23 to 24 weeks with modern medicine.
Late-term abortions are relatively rare in Ohio.
According to state data, more than 66% of Ohio abortions in 2022 involved pregnancies of less than nine weeks and about 23% involved pregnancies of nine to 12 weeks.
There were 342 abortions in pregnancies of 19 or more weeks of gestation or later, a decrease from the 486 reported in 2021.
There were 18,488 abortions in Ohio in 2022 with 9,225 of those being non-surgical. The drug mifepristone was used in 8,966 of those cases.
Opponents of Issue 1 have also dramatically overstated the impact the amendment will have on parental rights when it comes to abortion or gender surgeries. Neither are mentioned in the proposed amendment.
Faith doesn’t mean opposing abortion: Pastor Our faith does not ‘force pregnancy and birth onto a 10-year-old little girl’
Voter approval of Issue 1 would not change Ohio’s current parental notification and consent laws. Effective since February 12, 2012, it mandates that an attending physician has to secure written parental consent or in extreme cases, judicial consent, to provide an abortion to a child.
It is extremely unlikely an Ohio judge would strip away parental consent under the inclusion of the term “least restrictive means.” It is even more doubtful that the Ohio Supreme Court would let such a ruling fly.
It is also extremely unlikely that a doctor would perform an abortion on a child without proper parental consent.
During a meeting with members of our editorial board, Issue 1 opponent Mehek Cooke, spokeswoman for Protect Women Ohio and an attorney, cited a 2004 case where a 21-year-old soccer coach masqueraded as the father of the 14-year-old girl he impregnated by phone, falsely giving parental consent for her abortion at a Cincinnati Planned Parenthood clinic. The man was convicted of sexual battery.
Gabriel Mann, communication director of Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, called that a smoke screen.
“Issue 1 is about overturning an abortion ban with no exceptions for survivors of rape. The opposition to Issue 1 fully believes that a woman should be forced to give birth to their rapist’s baby. Everything they’re pushing here is to hide from that and distort the truth,” he said.
Abortion is a complex matter for those who support the right, those against it and those who fall somewhere in the middle.
We encourage Ohio voters to cut through the scare tactics and make a decision that not only aligns with their beliefs but the facts.
We know you will make the right choice.
Toledo Blade. October 24, 2023.
Editorial: Ohio needs solar
The bad news keeps coming for Greater Toledo’s technology based economic development strategy.
The latest headline tells us Toledo was bypassed by a federal tech hub program. (“Toledo-area consortium loses out on tech hub bid,” Tuesday)
The decision stings not only for the $30 million initial investment and $100 million potential grant but also because it follows closely on the heels of failure on the $1 billion federal hydrogen hub grant application.
Toledo put together strong proposals for both the U.S. Energy Department hydrogen hub competition and the U.S. Commerce Department tech hub competition. But the selection process is highly subjective, and local economic development leaders admit they are relative newcomers to federal grant applications and must develop the credibility that comes from a consistent presence.
Only 31 out of almost 400 applicants won the tech hub awards. Most of the winners were larger metropolitan areas with bigger players. The Northwest Ohio Innovation Consortium composed of First Solar, Pilkington North America, O-I Glass, Libbey Glass, the University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, Owens Community College, Toledo Public Schools, and every regional economic development organization will stick together to provide that constant effort according to the NOIC leaders.
It’s important that the consortium is not resigning to defeat. Toledo has a beefy involvement in solar, with good representation from the manufacturing and research sectors, though not so much in corporate leadership.
The new mission is to secure funds from the $125 million Innovation Hub program created by the state of Ohio. But if the NOIC application for federal funds can be believed, the push should be to expand the Ohio program.
The NOIC economic impact statement prepared by McKinsey & Company consultants calculates a $4 billion economic impact through the creation of 9,000 new jobs.
The NOIC application anticipates this growth because First Solar is the only domestic manufacturer, and the United States has less than 1 percent of the global solar panel market. Despite 24 percent annual growth for the last decade in U.S. solar installations, two-thirds of the panels are made outside the United States, primarily in China. The technology hub program is part of the Chips Act, Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors, passed in 2021. That federal program is behind the massive Intel fabrication plant going up near Columbus. Intel has promised to power the $20 billion plant with renewable energy.
The Ohio tech hub grant program would be wise to recognize the connection between renewable energy and tech company expansions. A $4 billion opportunity rarely comes along in Ohio.
If Toledo got the same $100 million provided to Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, it could quickly execute on the solar growth plan. State government won’t budge to help northwest Ohio, but keeping the tech giants coming to Columbus requires renewable energy resources from Toledo or China. We presume Toledo is favored over China as the solution to Columbus’ growing need for renewable energy.
Youngstown Vindicator. October 26, 2023.
Editorial: Read Ohio ballot language and understand it before voting
As Ohio’s November election rapidly approaches, there is an alarming amount of confusion and intentional misinformation floating around. One reporter was confronted by a voter who firmly believed Ohioans were being asked to cast ONE vote that would count for BOTH constitutional amendments on the ballot. In other words, this person was skittish about voting in favor of Issue 2 because she believed it would also indicate support for Issue 1.
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, but one can see where confusion would arise when so many special interest groups are trying to persuade voters there is more to the amendments than what is written on the ballot.
For example, as the Ohio Capital Journal reported in its series examining ballot language, “The topic of parental rights does not appear in Ohio Issue 1 on the ballot Nov. 7.” Further, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost told the Capital Journal, “The amendment does not specifically address parental consent.”
Yet plenty of special interest advertising and social media chatter would have voters believe otherwise.
According to Ballotpedia, November’s Issue 1 would “Provide that each individual has the right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions.” Issue 2 would “Legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 years of age or older.”
Full ballot language is available for any voter here: https://www.ohiosos.gov/elections/voters/toolkit/sample-ballot/
In fact, it is a good idea to take a look at your ballot to become familiar with more than just the ballot issues. Doing so before you vote gives you a chance to do your own research — on issues and individuals, rather than trusting the fear-mongers and conspiracy theorists on social media.
Once you’ve read the ballot language for yourself — once you understand what each issue says and does not say — make your voice heard knowing you have cast your vote for or against the issue itself, rather than the falsely tacked-on triggers nasty political operatives hoped would fool you.