The 2012 elections promise to be historic for several reasons, including the fact that more low-income voters than ever before are expected to vote in Ohio and other states. One reason for this is the motor voter laws in America.
In 2009, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, under the leadership of then- Director Douglas Lumpkin, agreed to implement the national and state motor voter laws. At that time, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services began an aggressive campaign to insure that public assistance recipients be given the opportunity to register to vote. Lumpkin is currently employed by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.
The program has been very successful and current Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Michael Colbert has continued the campaign. In each of the last two years, nearly 200,000 voter registration forms have been filed through the local county welfare offices. These forms represent either new registrations or voter address changes.
For years, the presumption had been that poor people were not registered to vote and were not interested in voting. These statistics show that this is no longer the case.
Athens County was a very early supporter of the voter registration program, dating back to the mid-1990s. Since that time, Athens County Job and Family Services has registered thousands of low-income voters. In fiscal year 2011, for example, agency clients filled out 1,175 voter registration forms, with more than half of those being new registrations.
Athens County Job and Family Services is thankful for the support that Directors Lumpkin and Colbert have given to this program, and is also thankful for Secretary of State Husted for his continued leadership in encouraging all Ohio residents to vote and make their voices be heard in the upcoming elections.