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Cincinnati Council will consider taking a greater role in voter access

A voter fills out a ballot at the Hamilton County Board of Elections in Cincinnati.
John Minchillo
A voter fills out a ballot at the Hamilton County Board of Elections in Cincinnati.

As voting rights legislation is stalled in Congress, a local official wants to address the issue closer to home.

Cincinnati Council Member Greg Landsman wants the city to implement several recommendations from the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio. Jasmine Coaston, vice president of government and community affairs, says there's a lot the city can do to increase voter access.

"A mobile vote center would target neighborhoods that maybe have low voter turnout or have barriers to people going out and voting," Coaston said.

Other suggestions include granting paid time off for city workers to vote (either on Election Day or during early voting); providing transportation to the polls; providing more educational material (in print and digitally) about voting; and using city buildings as polling locations.

"City buildings — people usually know where they are, how to get there; they're usually accessible via public transportation," Coaston said. "Those are all ways that we can remove some of those barriers, and I think that that's the number one goal."

Voter turnout for the municipal election last November was just 24%, the lowest in decades.

Landsman's motion asks city administration to create a plan for implementing the suggestions, including a cost estimate.

"My hope is that this is a long-term commitment that the city makes to play a big role in getting people engaged, registered and excited, motivated to vote," Landsman said.

The motion will be up for a vote in the Healthy Neighborhoods Committee on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.