Ohio NAACP encourages voter participation

LIMA — During his visit to Lima Wednesday, NAACP Ohio Conference President Tom Roberts worked to bring the same level of urgency in his message to the Lima NAACP chapter that was conveyed on his shirt, which read, “Vote! Our lives depend on it.”

With early voting now underway in Ohio, Roberts is taking that urgent message to voters in the state, working to combat voter apathy by encouraging people in the minority community to make their voices heard in the ballot box next month.

“Our votes count more so than ever before,” he said. “You will often hear, ‘This is the most important election of our lifetime,’ but this truly is. There are so many issues on the ballot and so many candidates on the ballot that we need to be paying attention to.”

Speaking to members of the Lima chapter, Roberts emphasized the accessibility that Ohio voters have to participate in elections.

“Ohio has made it very easy for us to vote,” he said. “I know the Secretary of State has sent out applications for absentee ballots for those who are preregistered, and he’ll send out a second one for those who are newly registered. Just send one in or you can vote now at the board of elections or vote on Election Day.”

During his address, while he emphasized that the NAACP remains nonpartisan, Roberts did say that the organization has taken a position against Issue 1. This statewide ballot issue would, if passed, require judges to consider public safety, including the seriousness of the offense and the person’s criminal record, along with the likelihood of a person returning to court, when setting bail amounts for criminal defendants.

“The courts already have in the Ohio Revised Code a way to set bail,” he said. “Many of us know that a person who sits in jail for a long time is going to plead to anything just so he or she can get out, and that has to stop.”

Roberts also said he would personally vote no on Issue 2, which would, if passed, prohibit local governments from allowing non-citizens or those who lack the qualifications of an elector to vote in a local election.

“That came about as a result of Yellow Springs saying to their non-citizens that they could vote on city ordinance,” he said.

Lima NAACP President Ronald Fails said that the chapter is now shifting its efforts from voter registration to voter turnout. To that end, the chapter has set up a phone line for people in the community who need transportation to polling locations. That number is 419-516-1122. The NAACP has also created a nationwide hotline for anyone who experiences any issues with participating in the voting process. People can call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (687-8683) to be connected with attorneys who can help address those concerns.

Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0391 or on Twitter @cmkelly419.