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Ohio County May Mail Ballot Applications, Defy Law

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Leaders in Ohio’s largest county have voted to assert home-rule powers and mail unsolicited, absentee-ballot applications to registered voters there if the state doesn’t do so.

The Cuyahoga (ky-uh-HOH’-guh) County Council approved the proposal Tuesday in response to a state law barring county elections boards and public officials from mailing such forms.

The proposal came from county Executive Ed FitzGerald, a Democrat running for governor. His Republican rival, Gov. John Kasich (KAY’-sik), signed a bill allowing Ohio’s elections chief to send the applications for general elections only if the Legislature directs the money for it.

Republicans in the Ohio House had proposed cutting local government funding by 10 percent for any county that doesn’t follow state procedures for providing absentee ballots. A House committee planned to remove that language Tuesday.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

A committee in the Republican-led Ohio House is removing language from Gov. John Kasich’s (KAY’-siks) midterm budget bill that would have stripped counties of a portion of their local government funding if they mailed out absentee ballots in violation of state law.

House Finance Chairman Ron Amstutz (AHM’-stuts) announced the reversal Tuesday. It came as the Cuyahoga (ky-uh-HOH’-guh) County council was considering a proposal to assert home rule and mail out the ballots to voters.

The budget amendment was cited in a request for a federal voter suppression investigation made earlier Tuesday by Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, a Democratic candidate for governor.

Kasich and Secretary of State Jon Husted (HYOO’-sted) also spoke out against the measure and urged fellow Republicans to remove it.

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