Columbus Mayor, City Council Wade Into Voter Education Fight

Oct 22, 2018

The city of Columbus is jumping into the fray after the Franklin County Board of Elections decided not to advertise for early voting.

Emergency legislation by the Columbus City Council sets aside nearly $300,000 to pay for nonpartisan ads describing where and how Franklin County voters can cast their ballots. In recent years, the county election board paid for that, but this year, Republican members refused, calling it a waste of money.

Council president Shannon Hardin says if they won’t act, the city will.

“I’m never one to question someone’s intent or the spirit behind how they got to a specific policy position,” Hardin says. "But what I can say is the impact—the actual impact—of not educating folks is a form of suppression.”

In a press release, Mayor Andrew Ginther states, “Rather than engaging in partisan bickering about basic voter education, I am committed to funding nonpartisan information about candidates and issues, as well as basic information about where to vote.”

Last week, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners clawed back money that election officials originally requested for voter education, with the intention of buying its own advertising.

The commissioners’ plan hit a snag after the county prosecutor suggested the spending wouldn’t be legal.