Speaker 1 00:00:21 Hi all. Welcome back to Just a Bite. It's Sarah here. I sit down with Jen Miller, the executive director of the Ohio League of Women Voters, to talk about the upcoming election and how folks can make sure that their voices are heard this November.
Speaker 2 00:00:47 Hi Jen. Thank you. So for time today, um, get your start in voter engagement.
Speaker 3 00:00:58 So I've always been a passionate voter because I think it's such an exciting way to have impact, um, on democracy and who represents our community at all levels of government, from local to state level to federal. Um, I really started with advocacy actually in arts, education, advocacy and, and arts funding. Um, I did some work in environmental work, especially making sure that, um, we have, uh, affordable bills, but also reduced pollution. And I came over to the league about four years ago because I just realized that a lot of voters were frustrated or that the process can be confusing and I wanted to be part of that solution.
Speaker 2 00:01:45 Absolutely. I feel like it all starts with voting, right? Absolutely. Yeah, definitely. I know that for some folks, the league is such a foundational organization in their communities, but for those who aren't familiar, could you kind of give a rundown of what the link does?
Speaker 3 00:02:04 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So we are over a hundred years old. We were founded in 1920, but our predecessor was actually the Ohio Women's Suffrage Association. And at that time, we were working to get women the right to vote. We were trying to get state laws passed for the right to vote in Ohio. Um, in, in 1890s, we were successful in getting women the right to vote for school board races. And then we played a role in the ratification of the 19th Amendment that ultimately protects a woman's right to vote. Uh, and that pass in 1920, we became the league with this idea that we were gonna have a whole new set of voters who would need to know the, where, the what, the how, and that's how the lead really developed. Um, we have lots of volunteers across the state doing voter registration or candidate forums. Uh, we pa we're very passionate about educating and empowering voters. We're nonpartisan, so that means we never support candidates or parties, uh, our North star, our voters. So something else we do is if a voter is having a challenge, um, accessing their ballot, maybe they've had, uh, maybe they're confused or maybe they interacted, uh, with, um, a poll worker and that didn't really go the way they thought it should. They can call us and we can help them understand the process and intervene if for some reason they're being denied the ballot.
Speaker 2 00:03:35 Yeah, absolutely. Such a full scope of, of what you all do. Um, today, October 11th is the final day for folks to register to vote just in time for the November election. That's on November 8th. Um, I think a lot of people are really excited and energized to vote, but for those who maybe on the fence are not really sure or are maybe planning to set this election out, what would you say to them?
Speaker 3 00:04:04 Never, ever, ever sit out in election. There are always important races, and in fact, those local races like Judge, uh, or city council, as well as those statewide races, um, you know, where you're selecting your Ohio House rep or your Ohio Senator, those are so critical. These are folks that determine so much, um, uh, whether it's funding for, um, schools, whether it's support for transit, whether it's, uh, water policies, um, and even school lunches. All those kinds of things are decided by state and local, um, officials who are on our ballot. And judges are particularly important. A lot of us will go before a judge, uh, for something, maybe a traffic ticket or, or maybe for child support, uh, those kinds of things. And so we really should make sure that we vote the entire ballot because these are folks who affect our daily lives.
Speaker 2 00:05:09 Absolutely. And we have a few, um, ballot measures on the, the ballot as well. Could you kind give a rundown of what those those are?
Speaker 3 00:05:20 Yeah. So we have a couple issues, um, on the ballot that are statewide. Uh, the first has to do with bail reform, and it would require Ohio Courts to consider public safety one setting bail. Um, it would remove the requirement that procedures for establishing that amount and the conditions are set right now by the Ohio Supreme Court, rather than having courts at a lower level do it. Um, you know, there are certainly those who like this provision, they feel as though, um, this ensures that courts when setting bail can consider factors such as public safety, um, and that it puts cash bail on its conditions directly into the Ohio Constitution. So it creates clarification that way. But, you know, the opponents say that, um, really the Ohio Supreme Court should continue to be the authority that determines bail levels, um, and that there's really no evidence that bail does in fact, um, ensure public safety.
Speaker 3 00:06:26 Um, one of the things that we see a lot is that bail can worsen or create in inequities. And so some folks who are accused, um, have enough money and can be freed pretrial while others remain incarcerated for the same or lesser crime. So this is one that's gonna take some consideration from folks. We do have on vote four eleven.org, our non partisan voter guide, pros and cons on both. And then issue two is an interesting one. Um, issue two would require that only a citizen of the United States who is at least 18 years old, um, and is a legal resident of Ohio who's registered can vote. That might seem as though that's already the case. The one thing is that, um, right now in Ohio law, Ohio communities could allow, um, legal green card residents. So they are not citizens, but they are here legally and permanently and probably have jobs and may have kids in schools, um, that they should be able to vote on those local races.
Speaker 3 00:07:33 So, you know, this is really about whether you think legal residents, uh, who are not citizens should be able to vote in local elections or not. Um, the pros is that this could, uh, you know, those who promote this say that this could prevent confusion for non-legal residents. Um, it and, uh, that they also say that having two voter registration systems, one for all of us citizens versus one for, uh, green car residents, that that would be confusing and hard for boards of elections and could be hard to administer. The con of course, is that legal residents, um, can pay taxes, right? A lot of times they have jobs, they have kids in schools. Um, and this would allow the municipalities to decide, um, if, um, their legal residents who are not citizens can vote. So this is a, there's a pro and con here too. It's just really about what you think the rights of, um, uh, legal, uh, non-citizens should be. And let's keep in mind we are not talking about people who are, um, here illegally. We're talking about people who do have green cards and many of them will eventually become citizens. They're just not there in the process yet.
Speaker 2 00:08:56 Great. Yeah, Thank you for giving a rundown about that. Um, I've found that for, for many of folks, there are a lot of barriers that are in their way. Um, when it comes to voting, whether that be transportation, not being able to get time off of work, you know, childcare issues, those sorts of things. Voting advocates always talk about, you know, making a plan to vote. Um, I was wondering if you could explain what folks should consider when making a plan to vote and maybe some of the resources that they have available, um, if there are those barriers in their way.
Speaker 3 00:09:34 Right. So the first thing is we need to make sure you're registered and also that you've checked your registration. Even if you are a voter and you know that you've voted recently, check that registration to make sure your name and your address are right when you move, uh, maybe across town, it doesn't automatically update your registration. There are also individuals who maybe haven't voted in six years and their, uh, registration will be removed even if their address and name have not changed. So step one, uh, is to check your registration or to register to vote. Um, let's keep in mind who is eligible to vote on all races from federal government to local. That is, uh, someone who's been, who's lived in Ohio for at least 30 days and has, uh, met that voter registration deadline, which is October 11th, that they are a US citizen.
Speaker 3 00:10:31 They're at least 18 years old by the general election. They're not currently incarcerated for a felony conviction. So let's be clear, that means if you have a felony record, that does not mean, uh, that you cannot vote. You can still vote. The only time is when you are actively serving time for a felony. But when you get outta prison, you need to reregister or if you've been declared and competent or been denied the right to vote by court. So this is one of those where perhaps some individuals have a guardian because maybe they have Alzheimer's or they have a developmental disability. You can vote unless a court has said that you cannot. But a court has to specifically rule on that, uh, for voting. So a court could decide that you need a guardian or, uh, someone to really help, uh, take care of your business affairs, but you can still vote.
Speaker 3 00:11:29 So again, uh, you need to be registered by October 11th. You need to be a US citizen. You need to be 18 by election day, not currently incarcerated for a felony and not denied the right to vote by a court specifically for voting. Um, you can confirm or update your [email protected]
ohio.gov, and that's the Secretary of State's site. The next thing you should do is research your ballot. Um, and there are many resources for that, of course. I'm gonna promote vote four eleven.org. That is our online voter guide. Again, we do not take stances on candidates, um, or parties. Those individuals who have, uh, entered their information because they're a candidate on your ballot, um, they had to enter that themselves. We don't even get to edit that. So it's a very trustworthy, uh, site for you. And again, remember that issues one and two for statewide are also going to be, uh, on vote four eleven.org where you can find out the pros and cons.
Speaker 3 00:12:39 If you wanna know more about courts and the judges that could be on your ballot, go to JVC dot Ohio dot go. That's judicial votes count. And you can also just Google judicial votes count. So that's the next thing you do, is you need to make sure you do your research. Um, a lot of times newspapers or other, other entities will also have questions. Um, you can go on their websites and see what those candidates stand for as well. Um, and then finally, you need to decide how you cash your ballot. And you have three options. You can wait till election day, which is November 8th and go to your neighborhood polling location. Uh, the polls are open from six 30 to seven 30 and you do need to make sure you bring a valid form of Id like an unexpired Ohio driver's license, um, or state id.
Speaker 3 00:13:36 Um, a US military ID can work also a original utility bill that's within one year. Um, and that need that, so that can be a cell phone bill or a, uh, electric bill, a bank or financial statement, a pay stub, a government check. Those need to have your name and address on there. So you have a lot of options there. You can early vote. So early voting starts October 12th and runs through November 7th. And there's one location per county. Um, and you can go there. Uh, you know, the hours do change. So if you decide you wanna early vote, you're gonna wanna check the day that you wanna go to see if the polls are gonna be open that day. Um, or you can vote absentee or what we call, um, voting by mail. This is particularly a great option if you're traveling a lot or you're someone who is immunocompromised or, um, just really like to be able to sit at your kitchen table and fill out your ballot.
Speaker 3 00:14:40 Um, that is also a safe way to vote. Um, so, but the first thing you need to do is request an absentee ballot. So, um, you have to get a paper form. You cannot fill out the application online. You need to get a paper form. So you can call your Board of Elections for that. They will mail that paper form to you. Um, you need to mail that back or deliver that hand, deliver that to the Board of Elections. Um, and they will mail you a ballot, uh, that you can fill out. Um, you either need to have it postmarked by November 7th, the day before election day, or you can deliver it in person to your Board of Elections by seven 30 on November 8th. So your three ways are waiting till election day and looking up your neighborhood polling location, which you, the easiest way to find that is actually to go to your Board of Elections website or to call your Board of Elections.
Speaker 3 00:15:39 Uh, you should also be able to do that if you enter that information and to vote four eleven.org. You can early vote. Um, here you, uh, it's good to have an id but you don't need it. You can just put in the last four of your social security number at the early Vote center in your county that runs from October 12th to November 7th. And remember, the times change that the early vote center is open. Finally, you can vote by mail that takes several steps. First, you have to apply, so you have to get that application and fill that out in person. Then they will mail you a, uh, ballot. Um, and then you fill that out and you send that back in postmarked by November 7th or delivered to the Board of Elections by November 8th.
Speaker 2 00:16:32 Yes, a lot of moving parts that you block that through, um, amazingly to be honest, um, and very clear as well. Um, for those of us who are, you know, we're, we're planning on voting, we've made our plan, um, and we may have a little bit of extra time or extra resources that we'd like to use towards this. Cause I was just wondering, how can someone get involved with their local League of Women voters? Um, and what are some opportunities before the election, but especially after the election with all the democracy defending work that you guys are doing?
Speaker 3 00:17:10 Great. So democracy is a participatory sport, so definitely want you to vote, but if you have time and you wanna volunteer, you have lots of options. The first is to sign up and be a poll worker, either during the early vote, uh, days at the early vote center or on election day at your neighborhood polling location, being a poll worker gives you a front seat to democracy. You'll be there. Uh, you, you get paid. Um, some employers allow that, uh, that to be time off, paid time off as well. Um, but that's an incredible thing to do. We need thousands of poll workers for every county to check in those voters to show them how the machine works, to pass out those stickers that we all like. That says you voted. That's one way. Another thing you can do is we need lots of election protection volunteers.
Speaker 3 00:18:02 Election protection is something that I'm very passionate about. It's a nonpartisan way to support voters. Uh, lots of different organizations work together on election protection, including the league and naacp, uh, faith leaders, lots of organizations here in Ohio. And there's lots of ways to do that. One is on election day or at the early vote to actually be located outside of the polling location with the shirt on that basically says voting questions. I can help you and there you can help answer questions of voters. If something isn't working exactly right inside, you can let us know so that we, uh, can follow up with that Board of Elections or the Secretary of State as needed. Um, so that's a really great option. Um, the League of Women Voters, we have lots of volunteer opportunities right now to register voters. And so if you're interested in that, you could call, um, my league office.
Speaker 3 00:19:03 Um, and I will get you that information later. Um, but you could call us and we would love to sign you up to be a volunteer. Finally, if you have questions or you have problems, um, about voting, I wanna give you a great tool and that's that election protection hotline. You can call them, it's free, or you can text them at 8 6 6 hour vote. So 8 66 O u r v o t e, uh, that you can also put that into your Google rep browser and you will be able to get lots of information and lots of help. There are, um, three other hotlines run by that same coalition and one for Asian and Pacific Island languages, one for Arabic and one for Spanish. And I'll make sure you have that information.
Speaker 2 00:19:57 Awesome. Yeah, and so important too that you have a of different languages there. Um, I was just wondering, very last question, how can the maybe share the Twitter Facebook page, website, that sort of thing?
Speaker 3 00:20:14 Yeah, well, if you Google us, you're gonna find us. So we're on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Our, the Ohio League site, which I work for, the Ohio League is l w v o h i o.org. Um, you also very likely have a league in your county. Um, and so you can also look for those folks as well. We, uh, are mostly volunteer run, so I am lucky that I get paid to work in democracy every day. That's so awesome. Um, but, but we need lots of volunteers across the state. Um, and you know, again, democracy works when we work it. Let's let us participate. Never, ever sit out an election. That's step one. Step two is once the election happens, make sure you call your lawmakers or your city council members and tell them what you want, uh, what you need. Um, and we're here to assist you with all of those things. Um, you can also find us, um, you know, as all the social media, but you can call us at (614) 469-1505. And uh, if you just, you're just not an internet person, that's okay. You can give us a call and we will help you.
Speaker 2 00:21:32 Awesome. So
Speaker 1 00:21:45 I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Jen. Please take a look at the show notes for links to check your registration, register to vote, and to make a plan to vote in time for the November 8th election. Happy voting. Thanks for listening, and we'll talk to you soon.