Senate hearing in downtown Cleveland to discuss voting rights and State Bill 194

CLEVELAND, Ohio - A battle over how and when Ohioans vote heated up across the state, as House Bill 194 was discussed during a Senate hearing at the Carl B. Stokes United States Federal Courthouse on Monday.

It all had to do with a plan to limit early voting and the concern over voter fraud.

Senate Majority Whip and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown listened to testimony for and against the bill. They said proponents of the plan need to give examples of voter fraud and a clear motive for keeping more than 100,000 voters from the polls the weekend before an election.

"They could find no evidence, no cases, no prosecutions. That's exactly the same thing I found in the state of Florida," Durbin said.

The bill would cut down the number of early voting days from 35 to 17. It would also eliminate voting on the weekend before an election, as well as removing the law requiring poll workers to direct voters to their proper precinct.

Although he did not present examples, Lake County Republican Party Representative Dale Fellows said there are several instances of voter fraud.

"If we were to talk to pretty much most counties in the state you'll have some kind of situation that may have occurred," Fellows said.

According to him, the weekend before an election is too taxing on workers, which can lead to more mistakes.

"They will tell you that the weekend before the election is one that is so frenzied and occupies them with detail of deploying voting machines and setting up the process, so that it's done in an absolutely flawless manner. And they would prefer to have those three days to make sure Election Day is run without any difficult," Fellows said.

Brown said he believes the claims of voters committing fraud are baseless.

"If there's fraud it's committed by the vote county of transportation not by the voter. That's why is so discouraging that one political party would want to discourage people from going to the polls," said Brown.       

Durbin said Ohio is a battleground state and can decide the outcome of the election.

"Ohio can decide the next president. The election can be extremely close in this state. The number of people who turn out will make the difference if those who changed the law here to try to suppress voting in certain areas of the state have their way they may decide the next President of the United States, I don't think that's beyond what they had in mind," Durbin said.

"I don't think that's consistent with what we are as a nation. We should make it easier to vote for those who are eligible to vote. Period. Unfortunately, this Ohio law doesn't make it easier, makes it more difficult."

Meanwhile, Director of International Student Services David Arrendondo said college students should not be allowed to hold multiple registrations in their home state and where they attend college.

"Americans need elections that are above question and reproach and should not settle for the current system that casts doubt on the outcome regardless of whether the result is close or not."

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