Black. Lives. Matter.

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9 mins read

Dear friend,

The events of recent weeks have been disturbing, infuriating and heartbreaking all at the same time.

The grim milestone of 100,000 Americans dead from COVID-19, an epidemic that has disproportionately impacted people of color … the horrific killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery before that … the racist harassment of Christian Cooper in Central Park … unarmed protesters treated far differently than armed protesters only weeks before … violent threats against Ohio House Democratic Leader Emilia Sykes and her father, Sen. Vernon Sykes … journalists being arrested and handcuffed live on national television.

Some of these horrors are new, yet much of it feels sadly familiar.

When I entered politics, Cincinnati had just undergone a period of trauma that had placed us on the international map in the worst of lights. After struggling for some time, the community came together and worked hard to address many of the underlying issues that had sparked our problems, including systemic reforms in the policing of our city. And no doubt there’s still much work to do here.

But the lesson also couldn’t be more clear: reform without accountability doesn’t count for much. Reform without accountability is not justice.

There must be immediate justice for George Floyd and his family. For Ahmaud Arbery and his family. For Breonna Taylor and her family.

Racism and violence have been intertwined with our nation’s history since its inception. At our best moments, we have had leaders who have appealed to the better angels of our nature.

At this moment, we have a president who has chosen to fan the flames of violence and hatred and anti-Semitism and misogyny and racism. His moment for accountability is coming this November because America cannot survive another four years of this.

However, America requires much more than change in the Oval Office. We need to demand accountability at every level of government, no matter our political party. If we believe that Black Lives Matter — and I do — then we must demand that our elected officials uphold that credo.

Valuing Black lives demands that we confront how racism impacts our society and how it subtly shapes public policy. Across Ohio, we have public servants who are taking up this fight. This month the Franklin County commissioners declared racism a public health crisis. Cleveland City Council is considering similar action. Leader Sykes, Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President Stephanie Howse and their colleagues have challenged the DeWine administration to do more to address the disparate impact of coronavirus on African-American Ohioans.

It’s on all of us — not just our African-American friends, partners and colleagues — to do more to address structural racism.

And as President Barack Obama wrote today, as we ultimately emerge from the deep damage done by this pandemic and this nightmare of a presidency, our goal cannot be to get back to “normal.” “Normal” is too painful, too unfair and too unjust for too many Americans. Our new normal must strive for far better for everyone.

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Stay safe and healthy and thank you for all that you do,

David

David Pepper
Chair
Ohio Democratic Party

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Trump Administration Is Failing Seniors

The Ohio Democratic Party hosted a virtual roundtable discussion this week with state Rep. Stephanie Howse, Ohio Alliance for Retired Americans President Norm Wernet and Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio Board of Trustees Member Cathy Crain to discuss the devastating impact of the coronavirus crisis on Ohio seniors.

  • After nearly 30,000 Americans had died of COVID-19 in nursing homes, the Trump administration finally recommended mass testing of long-term care residents and workers earlier this month — but failed to provide any funding to do it.
  • Despite the massive coronavirus outbreak, the Trump administration is still pushing to remove infection control regulations on the nursing home industry.
  • The coronavirus has ravaged Ohio’s nursing homes, with 70 percent of the state’s COVID-19 deaths coming from long-term care facilities.
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Making It Safer and More Convenient to Vote

This week state Sen. Nickie J. Antonio and state Sen. Sandra Williams announced they will soon introduce legislation to reform Ohio’s vote-by-mail process, improve Election Day procedures and streamline voter registration to increase voter participation.

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“We need to restore trust in the election process as we saw the inadequacies and confusion during the primary election,” Antonio said. “We cannot go back to the days of long lines and limited in-person voting machines, especially during the time of COVID-19. This legislation will ensure access and fairness in our elections.”

The senators want Ohioans to be able to request their absentee ballot online. In addition, their proposed legislation would harmonize Ohio’s voter registration process by allowing those who register online to provide the same information as those who fill a paper registration form — either the last four digits of their Social Security number or the number of their driver’s license/state ID card, instead of both.

The plan would also require that every registered voter in Ohio receive an absentee ballot application, including a prepaid return envelope, before any election going forward. In the event that in-person voting is restricted in any way, every registered voter would also be sent an absentee ballot, bypassing the request process entirely.

“It is important to establish policies that will give county election boards more flexibility to do what is best for their communities and ensure every citizen has access to the ballot box,” Williams said. “Voter access, without overly-complicated procedures, is vital to strengthening and safeguarding Election Day in Ohio.”

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The bill would also allow counties to have multiple secure drop boxes; authorize Boards of Elections to mail provisional ballots to voters and require school buildings to be closed on Election Day for general elections. Contrary to recent suggestions by some elections officials to reduce the ratio of DRE voting machines to registered voters and precincts, this legislation will uphold the current ratios that have been in statute since 2006.


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The people of Ohio deserve a government that supports their hard work and shares their hopes for the future. Our platform represents the Democratic vision for our State, embracing and implementing the dreams of Ohioans. We firmly defend these American beliefs, values, and traditions and are fighting hard every day to elect Democrats who have the experience and ideas to improve our state and who will hold Columbus accountable.

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