For Immediate Release
Date: August 23, 2011
League Completes Review of Election Administration Plans – a Requirement of its Lawsuit Settlement Agreement
Columbus, Ohio -- The League of Women Voters of Ohio (LWV Ohio) as part of its historic settlement of its lawsuit seeking to fix defects in the way Ohio conducts its elections undertook a review of the Election Administration Plans (EAPs) prepared by county boards of elections prior to the 2010 general election.
The federal lawsuit, filed in 2005, alleged that for over 30 years, the offices of the Ohio Secretary of State and Governor had failed to protect the fundamental rights of eligible Ohio voters to cast a meaningful ballot, as required by the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Settlement Agreement reached in June 2009 required that the state provide adequate planning for, resources supporting, and consistency in Ohio election procedures so that the opportunity to vote can be enjoyed fairly and equally by all Ohio citizens. See details of the agreement here.
One of the obligations assumed by the Secretary of State pursuant to the Settlement Agreement is to assess the Election Administration Plans (EAPs) developed by Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections in advance of General Elections in even-numbered years and Presidential Primaries. The EAPs are mandated in the Settlement Agreement in order to ensure consistency in Ohio election procedures and to promote the pre-election planning necessary to safeguard voters’ rights. The EAPs’ goal, in sum, is to improve the administration of elections, from ensuring adequate resource allocation and the correct processing of ballots, to increasing disability access and security. The plans are also to address improving the recruitment and training of election officials and poll workers.
With the assistance of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the League’s additional pro bono counsel, the League has completed an assessment of a cross-section of the EAPs. The report can be found at www.lwvohio.org. The report summarizes best practices, includes concrete suggestions on how election administration planning can be improved, and notes serious deficiencies in some instances.
The League has shared the report with the Secretary of State’s office and stressed the importance of effective election planning in light of the changes to election laws. The Secretary of State is reviewing the report as it addresses planning for upcoming elections. The League will continue to monitor future Election Administration Plans through 2015.
Nancy G. Brown, co-president of LWV Ohio, said, “Our goal in filing the 2005 lawsuit was to ensure that all eligible Ohio voters could vote and that all valid votes were counted. Ohioans must have confidence in the electoral process – and we believe attention to Election Administration Plans by each board of elections and the Secretary of State is critical to achieving this goal.”
The League of Women Voters of Ohio is located in Columbus, Ohio and has 33 local affiliate organizations around the state. The mission of the League of Women Voters is to encourage informed and active participation in government and to influence public policy through education and advocacy. For more information, go to www.lwvohio.org