Ohio lawmakers battle over upcoming election bill

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A controversial plan to make changes in upcoming elections is moving forward, and now we’re hearing from a local election director with her view on the changes.

It includes a shift in one early voting date and a new way for people to sign up for an absentee ballot.

News Center 7′s Jim Otte is in Columbus Monday to show us some of the changes and why lawmakers are so divided over what should happen next.

>> Election reform bill faces first House hearing at Ohio Statehouse

Voting reform plans are under way in a lot of states right now. Supporters of this one call it more modernization than anything else. However, critics call it a bad deal for voters.

The plan makes multiple changes that could have an impact on how and when you vote. For example, it makes it easier for you to sign up online to get an absentee ballot so you don’t have to come to the polls in person.

However, Democrats are targeting two big changes - the first is to limit ballot drop boxes to be located at the board of elections, while the second is to stop early voting on the Monday before the election.

Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney, D-Cleveland, said, “Long lines are voter suppression. When you remove a very popular day for voting, that limits people’s ability to vote in an election.”

Now, though Republican sponsors are responding to all of the criticism, saying the hours from Monday will be shifted to some other, earlier days, so there’s no net loss for voting.

Putting the political wrangling aside, News Center ‘s Jim Otte talked with Laura Bruns, Director of the Miami County of Elections who sees a real need for change.

“Like with any bill, there’s good and parts that need improved,” Bruns said.

Bruns said she supports ending early voting on Sunday rather than Monday as long as the hours overall are not reduced. It gives the board staff more time to prepare for in-person voting the next day.

Election directors will be in Columbus starting Tuesday for their annual summer conference with the Secretary of State. Meanwhile, lawmakers will continue their debate on the changes that are coming.