COLUMBUS — State Representative Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) is among the members of a Democratic caucus election policy working group who aren't pleased with Ohio's voting turnout in the Nov. 3 election.
While 67.4 percent of Ohio’s eligible voters voted in the 2020 election, Michigan’s final voter turnout was 73.9 percent, more than six points higher. This means Secretary of State Frank LaRose has lost his bet with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson over which state would have greater participation.
Ohio also failed to beat its own records. Ohio saw its highest turnout in 2004 with 67.9 percent and second highest turnout in 2008 with 67.8 percent. For historical state voter turnout data click.
“This is a disappointment," Lepore-Hagan said in a news release. "There is much work to be done to see how and where Ohioans were failed by their voting system.
"But one thing is clear, the state is not doing enough to make it easy for every Ohioan to vote," she said. "People were confused, they were scared of the pandemic and, if they lived in an urban county, they were forced to stand in long lines in the cold and rain to vote.
Lepore-Hagan said she supports Universal Vote By Mail to guarantee an increase in voter participation.
State Reps. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo), Catherine D. Ingram (D-Cincinnati) and Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) also expressed concern.
Their caucus plans to study the 2020 election official results to see what worked and what needs to change.
“In Cuyahoga County, both early and Election Day voters stood in long lines for several hours to exercise their most fundamental right," Sweeney said. "While their patience is commendable, these lines were preventable.
"My colleagues and I fought for months to make this election more accessible for working people, some of whom surely could not afford to wait," she said. "How many more Ohioans would have voted if Secretary LaRose had engaged with our legislation and responded to our calls for him to do everything in his power to help voters during a pandemic?
They are sponsors of an elections reform bill, HB 687, introduced in June to deal with the immediate challenges presented by the pandemic.
“While states around us see high rates of voter participation, Ohio has failed to progress under a decade of GOP rule," Ingram said. "There is no reason at all that we cannot have the same voter participation as our neighboring states, but our GOP leaders are content to lose to Michigan."
Rep. Hicks-Hudson said, “No one should be calling this election a triumph when Ohioans are not able to vote like people in neighboring states."