September 29, 2004

Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation expressed deep concern over the refusal of Lorain County Sheriff Phil Stammitti to allow voter registration efforts at the Lorain County Jail.

Recently, a local voter-registration group, Oberlin Votes!, attempted to register inmates at the Jail but were turned away by Stammitti. According to press accounts, Stammitti appears to be unwilling to assist the registration efforts in any way. Stammitti’s non-cooperation is in stark contrast to responses by staff and administrators at other Ohio jails who have accommodated voter registration groups without controversy.

The problem is compounded by the fact that only a very small minority of jail inmates appears to realize they have a right to vote in the upcoming election.

“Despite Sheriff Stammitti’s public statements equating voter registration to candy sales, voting is a fundamental right, and we are stunned that an elected official would so cavalierly dismiss such efforts,” stated Jeff Gamso, Legal Director for the ACLU of Ohio. “We urge the people of Lorain County to join us in telling Sheriff Stammitti that his attempts at voter disenfranchisement have no place in Lorain County and to demand a change in policy,” added Gamso.