by German Lopez
13 days ago
Posted In: News
at 02:14 PM | Permalink
Budget bill forces universities to decide between out-of-state tuition, providing documents
An amendment snuck into the budget bill passed by the
Republican-controlled Ohio House on April 18 would force public
universities to decide between charging lucrative out-of-state tuition
rates or providing out-of-state students with documents required for
voting in Ohio, raising concerns from Democrats that Republicans are
attempting to limit voting opportunities in the state once again.
The measure would force public universities to classify
students living on campus as in-state if they receive utility bills or
official letters that can be used for identification when voting in
Out-of-state tuition rates are typically higher than
in-state tuition rates, which means universities would be giving up
potentially millions in revenue to provide out-of-state students with
the proper documents.
For universities, the measure adds a financial incentive
to hold on to the documents. For out-of-state students, that could mean a
more difficult time getting the documents to vote in Ohio
Students can vote in Ohio if they have lived in the state
for at least 30 days, but voting requires proper identification and proof of residency. Utility
bills and official letters qualify, but student identification cards do
Republicans have been quick to defend the measure, while
Democrats have been quick to oppose it. For both sides, there’s a clear
political motivation: In the 2012 elections, 63 percent of Ohio voters
aged 18 to 29 supported Democratic President Barack Obama, while only 35
percent supported Republican Mitt Romney, according to exit poll data.
Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder justified the measure to the Toledo Blade:
“The real issue for local areas in particular [is], what happens when
somebody from New York City registers to vote. How do they vote on a
school levy? How do they vote on a sheriff’s race? To me, there is a
significant question, particularly the levies, as to what having people
who don’t have to pay for them would do in terms of voting on those
The comments prompted a response from Ohio Democrats,
particularly attorney general candidate David Pepper, a Greater
“It’s startling to see one of Ohio’s leaders voicing such a
blatantly unconstitutional justification for this cynical law,” Pepper
said in a statement. “The Constitution guarantees an individual’s right
to vote, regardless of what views they espouse (‘how ... they vote’),
whether they own property, or where they hail from originally. The
Speaker’s comments would quickly become Exhibit A in a successful
Constitutional challenge of this scheme to keep Ohio’s college students
Pepper’s statement went on to cite three U.S. Supreme Court cases to support his argument: Kramer v. Union Free School District No. 15 from 1969, Carrington v. Rash from 1965 and Dunn v. Blumstein from 1972.
In Kramer v. Union Free School District No. 15, the
court argued any laws that discriminate against certain types of voters
must endure strict judicial scrutiny because “any unjustified
discrimination in determining who may participate in political affairs
or in the selection of public officials undermines the legitimacy of
representative government.” The ruling struck down a New York statute
that said those participating in school board elections must be property
owners, the spouses of property owners, lessors or a parent or guardian
of a child in the school district.
Pepper’s statement claims the ruling invalidates
Batchelder’s argument: “The Court rejected the state’s argument
(identical to the Speaker’s) that only those two groups had a primary
interest in such elections.”
In Carrington v. Rash, the Supreme Court ruled
states may not limit voting based on how someone may vote: “‘Fencing
out’ from the franchise a sector of the population because of the way
they may vote is constitutionally impermissible. ‘[T]he exercise of
rights so vital to the maintenance of democratic institutions’ ...
cannot constitutionally be obliterated because of a fear of the
political views of a particular group of bona fide residents.”
Similarly, Dunn v. Blumstein struck down
Tennessee’s one-year residency requirements for voting in a ruling that
said residents recently coming from other states can’t be barred from
voting: “[T]he fact that newly arrived [Tennesseeans] may have a more
national outlook than long-time residents, or even may retain a
viewpoint characteristic of the region from which they have come, is a
constitutionally impermissible reason for depriving them of their chance
to influence the electoral vote of their new home State.”
The Ohio House’s budget bill amendment is only one of many
attempts from Ohio Republicans to limit voting opportunities in the
state since 2011. In 2011, the Republican-controlled legislature and
Gov. John Kasich approved two laws that reduced early voting hours.
Democrats and third-party groups threatened to bring the legislation to
referendum, but the Republican-controlled legislature and Kasich
repealed most of the measures and restored expanded early voting in Ohio
before the referendum came to a vote. A federal court also
restored early voting for all Ohioans for the three days prior to Election Day, which the previous repeals had only brought back for military voters.
In 2012, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican,
invoked uniform early voting hours, effectively eliminating most
weekend voting, and made last-minute changes that placed the burden of
proper identification on voters instead of poll workers, which Democrats
argued made verifying provisional ballots more difficult.
When asked to justify some of the measures, Doug Preisse,
close adviser to Kasich and chairman of the Franklin County Republican
Party, wrote in an email to The Columbus Dispatch, “I guess I
really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to
accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine.”
The race-based reasoning prompted a harsh response from
Democrats, who claimed Republicans were trying to suppress minority
voters who tend to vote for Democrats.
Beyond voting rights, the Ohio House budget bill defunds Planned Parenthood and forgoes the Medicaid expansion (“The Chastity Bunch,” issue of April 24).The budget bill still has to be approved by the Ohio Senate and Kasich to become law.
8 Comments · Tuesday, February 8, 2011
We're not sure if Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters pays The Enquirer to handle his public relations, but he should. In a stunning example of Deters spinning his previous statements and the newspaper ignoring its previous article on the topic, The Enquirer reported Feb. 2 that Deters was angry and upset about a contract approved by county commissioners for use of an outside law firm.
1 Comment · Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Maybe it's easier to stand up for principle when you're retiring in a few weeks, but the Republican U.S. senator from Cleveland has never been afraid to buck his party, when needed. Now George Voinovich is calling out skittish President Obama and dogmatic GOP lawmakers for their deal to extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone — including millionaires and billionaires — for the next two years.
The Tea Party's crazy contradictions put their stamp on the 2010 elections
2 Comments · Wednesday, October 27, 2010
The 2010 elections will be remembered mostly for the Tea Party movement, though the exact meaning of the movement is yet to be determined. If Republicans are successful in co-opting Tea Partiers' anti-government anger and gain majorities in the U.S. House and/or Senate, the movement will have "arrived." If voters wake up and realize that the Tea Party simply is a "populist" cover for the Republican Party, Democrats will be given further time to continue cleaning up the mess left by the Bush administration.
County officials turn to citizens for input
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Hamilton County officials are asking residents for help in determining what course of action to take to solve some of the most severe budget issues the county has ever faced. Ideas about what residents expect from county government and how they would solve funding dilemmas are being solicited through the 2011 Hamilton County Citizens Survey.
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Federal transportation officials announced late last week that Cincinnati will receive a $24.9 million grant to help build a proposed streetcar system, while the NAACP's local chapter continues its strange disconnect from the organization’s national office.
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 23, 2010
State workers may soon be able to extend their benefits to "live-in" partners. Against the idea is Citizens for Community Values leader Phil Burress, whose official statement on the issue included a disturbing metaphor about the ends of an extension cord not fitting together if each has three dicks.
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 16, 2010
It's about time that someone of note said it publicly. During a June 9 conference of progressive activists, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero declared, "I'm disgusted with this president." No, Romero wasn't repeating any of the outlandish attacks that Tea Partiers and far right kooks have made about President Obama personally. Rather, he was referring to Obama's policies on civil liberties and national security issues, which have contradicted his campaign promises from 2008.
2 Comments · Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled June 9 that Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters was within his legal authority last October when he convinced 12 Common Pleas judges to sign an order firing a private law firm used for years by Hamilton County commissioners. The action was taken without prior notification to the commissioners and occurred only after they had cut $15 million from the Prosecutor's Office budget. Just a week before the high court's decision, another judge in a lawsuit related to Deters' action had sided with commissioners.