(Cleveland) - In an escalating dispute, the leader of Ohio’s largest county has asked federal investigators to determine if recently passed Ohio voting rules are intended to suppress Democratic and minority votes.

In a downtown Cleveland news conference today, Cuyahoga County Executive and gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald challenged a state law barring county elections boards and other public officials from mailing absentee ballots.

He claims a budget amendment in the Republican-dominated Ohio House stripping 10 percent of local-government funding from counties that violate the law. Cuyahoga county plans a vote Tuesday asserting home-rule in the mailing of such ballots.

Meanwhile, Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted said a reasonable resolution is possible. He says Ohio will mail absentee-ballot applications to all voters, making FitzGerald’s proposal redundant and illegal. He called funding cuts unnecessary.

Ed FitzGerald speaking to reporters outside the Federal Courthouse.

Ohio’s elections chief is calling on both sides in a dispute over absentee-ballot distribution in Cuyahoga County to negotiate a resolution.

Husted contends a proposal by FitzGerald to assert home-rule powers and mail unsolicited, absentee-ballot applications to the county’s registered voters is redundant and illegal.

Husted also criticized lawmakers in the Republican-led Ohio House, where he was once speaker, for the budget amendment proposing to strip 10 percent of Cuyahoga’s local-government funding if the proposal is approved.

Gov. John Kasich signed a bill allowing Husted to send the applications for general elections, only if the legislature directs the money for it.

(Photos by Ken Robinson/WTAM)

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