Ohio Secretary of State candidate and current state Sen. Nina Turner, D-Cleveland, stopped in Marietta for a meet and greet event in the Harmar district Thursday evening.
The 47-year-old Cleveland native will face off against incumbent Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted during the November general election.
"I'm not running for an office, I'm running for a cause," Turner told a crowd of more than 30 people who gathered at the Knights of Columbus Hall to meet the candidate Thursday.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Ohio Secretary of State candidate and current state Sen. Nina Turner, D-Cleveland, talks with Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews during a meet and greet event at the Knights of Columbus Hall Thursday evening.
She said her cause is to make the ballot box more accessible to voters throughout Ohio.
"The ballot box is an equalizer, where we all have an equal right to cast our votes," Turner said. "We should be protecting the ballot box, and this should not be a partisan issue."
She said Husted has "put up roadblocks" in the voting process.
- Democratic candidate for Ohio Secretary of State.
- Native of Cleveland.
- State Senator for Ohio's 25th District (portions of Cuyahoga and Lake counties) since 2008.
- Married to Jeffrey Turner, Sr. Parents of one son, Jeffrey Jr.
"In 2012 the current Secretary of State wanted to remove the last three days of early voting prior to Election Day, and fought for his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court," she said, adding that Husted also issued a directive limiting early voting to daytime hours on weekdays.
Turner said such directives make it difficult for the average working-class Ohioan to cast an early ballot during the general election.
She makes no apologies for being passionate about the voting process.
"Voting should be simple, convenient and secure," Turner said.
Willa O'Neill, who will be taking the reins as chair of the Washington County Democratic Party after current chairwoman Molly Varner steps down next month, said Turner is "right on the money" about voting access.
"I think the current Secretary of State is purposefully making it more difficult for many segments of Ohio's population to vote," she said. "Why would you want to curtail people's ability to vote? Why wouldn't you want to make it easier?"
Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews said he has watched Turner on MSNBC where she's a frequent guest.
"She's very outspoken about what she believes, and I think she would be a great Secretary of State," he said, noting that under the current administration there seem to be changes to the process before every election.
"I think she could change that, and it would be a welcome change," Matthews said.
In addition to making the voting process simpler and more accessible, as Secretary of State Turner said she would work to support businesses throughout the state.
"Businesses register through the Secretary of State's Office, and I want that office to be a bridge, a conduit to help Ohio's small businesses to thrive," she said, adding that she would make use of technology and create a business roundtable with new and veteran business leaders to help serve the business community.
Fellow Ohio Senator Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, also attended Thursday's meet and greet event.
"I've had the privilege of serving with Senator Turner, and she's always been a very strong voice for voting access, long before she considered running for Secretary of State," he said. "She's also a capable leader in the Senate, where she's not afraid to take a stand on many issues that impact the entire state."
Gentile called Turner "an honest, effective legislator who has the statehouse credentials to back up her bid for Secretary of State."