By Gregory T. Moore
The turnout of voters in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County will be key to the results of the August 8th special election that could determine how constitutional amendments are passed in all future statewide elections. Beginning July 11th during the Early Vote period,voters from across the state will begin casting early ballots on the proposed Issue #1. If passed, it will amend the current Ohio Constitution to increase the percentage of votes needed to pass a proposed constitutional amendment.
Currently a 50% + 1 majority of the vote is needed for passage, which has been the case for over 111 years in the state of Ohio. On May 10th Republican legislators pushed through a controversial bill, Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR2), a constitutional amendment to increase the percentage of votes needed to amend the constitution from 50% +1 to 60%.
By Gregory Moore
Despite a record voter turnout across Cuyahoga County in the August 8th Special Election, thousands of voters encountered a series of problems on election day related to changes in poll locations and the new photo ID requirements. According to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, over 47,000 voters were impacted by changes to polling locations in 50 precincts across eight municipalities including voters in Cleveland’s Wards 7 and 9 where poll consolidations were concentrated. On August 3rd, the County Board had advised voters to confirm their voting location before going to the polls on Election Day.
According to election officials, poll locations are consolidated for a variety of reasons, including the lack of adequate poll workers and the need to reduce poll locations to accommodate what was expected to be a smaller voter turnout. More voters than expected arrived at their previously assigned poll locations and were directed by poll monitors or signage to their newly assigned location.
by Gregory T. Moore
The Feb. 3, 2023 Norfolk Southern Train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio has become a profound wake-up call for Ohio and the nation on the dangers of hazardous toxic materials being transported through states, often without the knowledge of local officials. Preliminary analysis by the National Transportation Safety Board revealed that cargo wheel bearings overheating led to a deficiency in the warning systems that contributed to the derailment. As the testing and cleanup continue, other Ohio cities including Cleveland are taking a second look at railway safety standards for shipping hazardous toxic cargo.
While East Palestine may be ninety miles from Cleveland, the same train that derailed had passed through our city earlier on the same day of the disaster. Several Environmental Justice leaders are asking what if the derailment had taken place in Cleveland, Akron, or Youngstown which all have larger population centers. Central to their concern is the local preparedness for such an environmental disaster that would impact the more populated Northeast Ohio. There were initial fears about what effect the derailment might have had on Lake Erie and the Great Lakes. After several weeks of daily testing of water in Lake Erie, the Niagara River, and treated water supplies by the Erie County Water Authority, there have been “no detected chemicals involved in the train derailment – including vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen that was burned following the accident.”
The Cleveland Water Department released a statement shortly after the derailment asserting that the event in East Palestine “did not affect Cleveland’s Lake Erie Water Source.” However, Cleveland is no stranger to environmental disasters. In the summer of 1969, the Cuyahoga River caught fire, gaining nationwide attention that helped spark a national grassroots movement for new federal guidelines related to clean water. The loose state and local regulatory process that allowed smaller tributaries like the Cuyahoga River to be classified for “industrial use” was not unique to Cleveland.
Jeremy Wang-Iverson, Gregory T. Moore | 22.02.2023
Over four decades, civil rights leader Gregory T. Moore has tirelessly worked to reform US voter registration laws. His goal is to safeguard the rights of racial minorities at the ballot box. We interviewed him about the ever-increasing threats to the 1965 Voting Rights Act and his views on the future of American democracy.
For more than 150 years, the history of Black people’s right to vote in the US has been marked by both progress and setbacks. One of its landmarks was the Voting Rights Act (VRA), signed into law by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, which resulted from a long-fought battle in the civil rights movement. The VRA banned discriminatory voting practices, like English literacy tests or poll taxes, and enforced specific restrictions on the election procedures of states with high levels of racial discrimination.
But the fight against voter suppression is far from over. Just a decade ago, one major section of the Voting Rights Act was deemed to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and more cases with a potentially profound impact on voting rights are pending.
We invited Gregory T. Moore to share his views about historic battles and ongoing struggles for the basic principle of one person, one vote. Dedicated to breaking down barriers to full participation in American democracy for over 40 years, Moore is one of the leading voting rights advocates in the US. In recent years he has been active as President and CEO of the Promise of Democracy Foundation.
The interview was conducted by Jeremy Wang-Iverson of Vesto PR & Books.
by Gregory T. Moore Guest columnist
Gregory T. Moore is author of the new book, “Beyond the Voting Rights Act, the Untold Story of the Struggle to Reform America’s Voter Registration Laws.” He lives in Cleveland.
Over the last two years, since the beginning of the redistricting and reapportionment process, we have watched as Republicans in the state legislature have vehemently undermined both the spirit and the letter of the law under the Ohio Constitution.
Blog Message from Greg Moore
The year 2020 will forever go down in history as a consequential year that will be defined by the many tragic events that have unfolded in our nation: the deadly COVID 19 Pandemic, the shutdown of the US economy, and the chronic unemployment and economic hardships that followed. But it will also be forever marked by the national (and international) recognition and awareness of a longtime American pandemic of racism and police brutality.
The tragic deaths of George Floyd, Brianna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks and the many other African Americans that came before and after them have finally opened the squinting eyes of our nation. The Black Lives Matter protests and uprisings have launched a new movement for racial justice and began a long overdue national dialogue on racism and its lasting impact on our society.
However, there is one more much less public tragedy taking place throughout the US that has been under the radar screen: the severe under count of Black, Brown, urban and economically under-served communities in the 2020 Census. Already woefully underfunded by federal and state government, the census undercount of our communities could wield yet another tragic and devastating blow to our region and state of Ohio as well.
By the June, 2020 only 46.6% of Cleveland resident had completed their census form compared to 66.3% statewide. The percentage in East Cleveland was even worse with less than 33% of its residents responding.
Cleveland and the Northeast Ohio region could lose hundreds of millions of dollars and a Congressional Seat in the US Congress if we don’t pull together as a community and ensure that every household has been counted before the October 31st deadline. So while we are in the midst of deadly pandemics of sickness and racism, we face the crucial challenge to take the necessary steps now while it is still possible to stop the diversion of hundreds of billions of dollars from our communities in Ohio and throughout the US.
It is in that spirit that the Promise of Democracy Foundation is partnering with the Ohio Voter Fund, the Ohio Census Advocacy Coalition, the Cleveland Foundation and a number of Community partners to coordinate a targeted outreach campaign to reach Hard to Count communities in the Greater Cleveland area. Our communities must live with the consequences of a census 2020 undercount for the next 10 years with no avenues to remedy the economic disparity and political disenfranchisement that’s certain to follow as we move into the re-apportionment and redistricting process that is all based on the results of the US Census.
It’s time for us to bend the curve of our Census response rate upwards while there’s still time to make a difference.
Gregory T. Moore is the President of the Promise of Democracy Foundation