Jan 5, 2022 - Politics

Columbus, Reynoldsburg mayors push voting rights

Illustration of a "vote" pin as a boxing ring bell
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and Reynoldsburg Mayor Joe Begeny are urging the U.S. Senate to enact major voting rights laws ahead of this year's midterm elections.

Why it matters: If passed, the new laws would significantly impact voting access in Ohio and across the country.

What's happening: Ginther and Begeny endorsed a letter this week along with over 100 other city leaders from the U.S. Conference of Mayors seeking action on a pair of voting rights bills.

  • In a provided statement, Ginther says his administration has "actively advocated with the U.S. Conference of Mayors to stop voter suppression, add voter protections and make voting as convenient as possible.”

Catch up quick: The Democrat-led House of Representatives passed legislation last summer to reinstate the federal government's ability to block state election laws found to be discriminatory.

Yes, but: This and other pieces of voter reforms are stuck in the Senate, where Democrats have a narrower majority and filibuster rules to overcome.

The big picture: Reforms being considered include making Election Day a public holiday along with allowing citizens to register at their polling places and immediately cast a vote. Ohio currently cuts off voter registration a month before Election Day.

  • Another change would ensure 15 days of early voting for federal elections. Ohio already has a robust early voting calendar, but not all states do.

What they're saying: Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose views these efforts as a way to "sidestep state sovereignty and federalize election administration."

  • Republican Sen. Rob Portman has also been critical, saying the proposals "amount to a federal takeover of our election system."

The other side: Portman's Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Sherrod Brown, says he supports the bills as necessary to protect Americans' right to vote.

What's next: President Biden says he's willing to support "whatever it takes" to get the voting legislation through Congress, including changing the Senate's filibuster rules.

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