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Early voting changes draw protests from minority voters
Other morning headlines: Libertarian candidates await decision about primary ballot; FitzGerald pushes for unsolicited absentee-ballot applications; Cleveland fire investigating home explosion

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair

Stickers at a Nevada polling place on Election Day 2010. 

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  • Early voting changes draw protests from minority voters
  • Libertarian candidates await decision about primary ballot
  • FitzGerald pushes for unsolicited absentee-ballot applications
  • Cleveland fire investigating home explosion
  • More than half of Ohio's rape kits tested
  • Quiet fundraising effort leads to $25 million for Akron Children's
  • Outbreak of mumps at Ohio State University
  • Unemployment data expected today
  • Ford to produce F-650, F-750 in Avon Lake
  • Teachers push to preserve cursive writing
  • Early voting changes draw protests from minority voters
    Recent changes in Ohio’s early voting rules are drawing protests from minority voters. The Plain Dealer reports the United Clergy of Greater Cleveland staged a protest yesterday outside the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. The group represents about 100 mostly black local congregations. They're opposing Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s elimination of early, in-person voting on Sundays and evenings ahead of the November election. The change does away with the popular "Souls to the Polls tradition" where black churches offer transportation to the polls on Sunday. Republican Husted said he wanted to set standard voting hours across the state. Democrats says he's trying to make it harder for minorities to get to the polls.?

    Libertarian candidates await decision about primary ballot
    Two Libertarian candidates for statewide office in Ohio are awaiting word from the state elections chief on whether they'll make the May 6 primary ballot. Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted has said he'll rule by today on separate protests filed against gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl and attorney general candidate Steven Linnabary. Earl has the potential to draw votes from Republican Gov. John Kasich as the governor faces a challenge from Democrat Ed FitzGerald this fall. The protest seeking to disqualify Earl from the primary ballot was registered on behalf of Tyler King, a Libertarian voter. King's attorney claims Earl should be disqualified and that Democrats provided him help. Earl's attorney has called the challenge an extension of Republican efforts to exclude third parties from Ohio's ballot.

    FitzGerald pushes for unsolicited absentee-ballot applications
    The leader of Ohio's largest county has submitted a proposal to the county council to assert its home-rule powers and mail unsolicited, absentee-ballot applications to registered voters there. The move by Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald comes in response to a new state law that bars county elections boards and other public officials from mailing such ballots. Absentee ballots allow Ohio voters to cast an early ballot by mail or in person. Democrat FitzGerald is running for governor. Republican rival Gov. John Kasich recently signed a bill allowing the secretary of state to send the applications for general elections, only if the Legislature directs the money for it. Other officials are banned. FitzGerald's proposal is expected to be considered at the council's Tuesday meeting.

    Cleveland fire investigating home explosion
    The Cleveland Fire Department is still investigating what caused a home to explode on the city’s East Side yesterday. WKYC reports that firefighters and investigators with Dominion East Ohio Gas spent hours going through the rubble. The house on East 112th Street exploded just after 12:30 Thursday afternoon. It shook neighboring homes, and scattered debris into nearby yards and streets. The house was leveled, but incredibly, no one was hurt.

    More than half of Ohio's rape kits tested
    The Ohio Attorney General's Office says it has tested more than 3,000 rape kits as it searches for DNA matches that could help solve sexual assaults. That's more than half of the 5,850 kits that law enforcement agencies have submitted to the office since Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the testing initiative in December 2011. The office offered DNA testing to any law enforcement agency with untested rape kits in which a crime was believed to have been committed. Many of the kits submitted for testing are between 10 and 20 years old. DeWine says the testing has led to 992 hits in the state's DNA database. In Cuyahoga County, prosecutors have generated 85 indictments as a result of the testing initiative.

    Quiet fundraising effort leads to $25 million for Akron Children's
    Despite a fairly quiet fundraising effort, Akron Children’s Hospital has already raised more than $25 million for its campus expansion, according to the Beacon Journal. The numbers were announced yesterday during a celebration for the campaign. The project will cost $180 million, and the hospital is seeking $60 million in donations. It includes a new neonatal ICU and emergency department, set to open in March of 2015. $10 million will go toward a Ronald McDonald House renovation and expansion. The project is expected to add up to 200 new jobs when it’s finished.

    Outbreak of mumps at Ohio State University
    Public health officials are investigating an outbreak of mumps at Ohio State University, where nine students are reported to have the contagious infection. The Columbus Public Health is working to find out whether there is a connection between the cases. Ohio State is preparing for spring break next week, and some students may already be leaving campus. The infected students have been told to stay isolated from others. Mumps is a viral infection that typically starts with fever, fatigue and body aches. The treatment is rest and fluid.

    Unemployment data expected today
    Ohio officials will release the state's unemployment rate for January today, along with the newest statewide labor data. The jobless rate dropped in December to 7.2 percent, down from 7.4 percent in November. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services plan to release the latest figures on Friday morning. The state's rate has been slightly higher than the national rate, which was 6.6 percent in January.

    Ford to produce F-650, F-750 in Avon Lake
    Ford is announcing that it will build its Ford F-650 and F-750 trucks at its Avon Lake assembly plant, west of Cleveland. The automaker says it is shifting production from Mexico to northeast Ohio. Production will begin early next year. The move announced today is part of a pledge Ford made with union leaders in 2011 to shift medium-duty truck production from Mexico. The company says it's investing $168 million to make the change.

    Teachers push to preserve cursive writing
    Some teachers are pushing to preserve the art of cursive writing. In Lorain County, teachers and administrators continue to teach and use cursive, despite it being dropped from the Common Core state standards the Ohio Board of Education adopted back in 2010. According to the Morning Journal, some state board members who approved the standards didn’t realize cursive writing was no longer a part of them. Last month, the board passed a resolution to encourage the teaching of cursive writing. Educators say it improves focus, creates a new connection between the hand and the brain, and forces kids to use a different part of the brain than they use for keyboarding.

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