Ohio's Republican Secretary of State is up for re-election this year. Jon Husted, a Republican, spent his first term pushing a reduction in early voting. His opponent in the race, Democratic State Senator Nina Turner, has campaigned on expanding access for voters. Turner has trailed by double digits.
Among the last decisions going into the election concerned the informational posters that would be displayed at the polling places about voter ID requirements and so on. Like a lot of states, Ohio has strict rules about campaigning inside or near polling places. You're not allowed to wear campaign badges or shirts, for instance, whether you're an ordinary voter or a poll worker. Those informational posters ordered up by Secretary of State Husted featured his name in large print. When Democrats on the elections board in Hamilton County, Ohio, objected to that as electioneering, Husted ordered them to display the posters.
Yesterday we got a letter and some pictures from Carolyn Farmer, a precinct election officer (or PEO) in Anderson Township, a suburb of Cincinnati, in Hamilton County. She writes:
Following the lead of my fellow poll worker who says he has never seen anything like this in his 10 + years of working as an election official, I walked off my job setting up for tomorrow's election out of disgust over the poster we were supposed to hang in our polling location. I have attached photos of the posters being hung in polling places tonight along with a snapshot of the applicable page in our training materials that clearly states that the "polling location is a CAMPAIGN NEUTRAL ZONE - keep all campaign solicitors and materials outside and beyond the 100ft. flags." The capitalization is the Hamilton County Board of Election's (in their PEO Quick Guide) not mine. "No one, including voters and PEO's, should wear any campaign badges/t-shirts etc. Voters may have their personal papers/materials in their hands but PEO's should remove materials left in the voting booths throughout election day." We are instructed that we cannot even leave the names of the write in candidates face up on the table because it is considered electioneering. Jon Husted's name appears in large, bumper sticker size print in the bottom right hand corner on the approximately 2 foot by 3 foot poster. Kasich's name appears in two places in comparatively smaller print. Both Husted and Kasich are on the ballot. My Republican co-worker (two Republican and two Democratic poll workers are required at each polling place) agreed that the sign is inappropriate and shouldn't be there.
Above, you can see the poster she's talking about. Below, the instructions for poll workers about the ban on "electioneering" in a polling place.