Today Ohio saw an unprecedented interference with the right of Ohio voters to repeal harmful legislation. In recent Ohio history we citizens had a huge success using the voter’s veto to repeal SB 5. We were poised for the same victory with HB 194, but the GOP is determined to rob us of our right to control what happens in our government. Consider this: Ohio’s legislature has never before repealed a law that is the subject of a referendum.
The Senate today passed SB 295 in an attempt to repeal HB 194 before it reaches the ballot this November. Republican state legislators have decided to bypass Ohio’s voters by attempting to put a stop to this fall’s HB 194 referendum that folks like you worked so hard to put on the ballot. Instead of giving Ohio’s voters the chance to reject HB 194 in November, they want to repeal the law — and replace it with voting restrictions we won’t be able to repeal before the 2012 November elections. This Republican majority has put up roadblocks to the early and absentee voting that nearly one-third of Ohioans used to cast their votes in 2008.
When the Republicans passed HB 194, supporters like you fought back, gathering over 300,000 signatures to put this law up for a referendum on November 6th. The GOP can see that Ohio is ready to repeal this law once and for all — but they don’t want to give voters that chance. These politicians are not only ignoring the will of Ohio’s voters — they’re actively trying to silence our voices.
Today, Democrats in the Senate objected to the repeal after unsuccessfully trying to amend SB 295 so that early voting could still take place in the weekend and Monday prior to Election Day. Voting should be allowed in the days leading up to the election because that is the law that was in place prior to the passage of House Bill 194.
Some sources say that Republicans passed a provision restricting early voting in the three days before the election in a separate bill (HB 224) last year after passing House Bill 194. They have argued that even if House Bill 194 was repealed by voters in November, early voting would still be banned on those three days before the election because of a provision in HB 224. One of the co-sponsors of HB 224 disagrees that HB 224 bans early voting on those three days.
“I sponsored HB 224 with Rep. Mike Dovilla (R-Berea) in an attempt to put aside partisan politics and expand voting accessibility for military voters,” said Rep. Stinziano, a former Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections. “HB 224 was not meant to address any other issues of election law and the provisions of HB 224 were purposely separated from other contentious elections bills, HB 194 and HB 159, as it was thought that the voting rights of our military members should not be subject to partisan politics.”
~ State Rep. Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus)
Now that it has passed the Senate, the repeal will go to the House. House Speaker Batchelder is of course, supportive. HB 295 will be assigned to a committee, then they’ll hold a hearing for sponsor testimony and maybe one more for interested parties, then back to the full House. They are on break for two weeks starting next week, so they may vote on HB 295 in the 3rd week of April if they fast-track it. Contact your representative and let them know what you think. If HB 295 is approved, we will have been robbed of our referendum vote on HB 194 in November and a crucial early voting window will be gone. Why is accessibility of voting so important? The answer is simple. When fewer people vote, Republicans win.
“SB 295 is not a simple repeal bill like the Republicans are claiming. Instead, it is a sneak attack on the voting rights of Ohioans. It includes one of the most harmful provisions of HB 194 – the elimination of the three busiest days of early voting. In our two largest counties alone, nearly 20 percent of early voters voted on those final 3 days in 2008. The elimination of these days will cause voter confusion, long lines at the polls and put further strain on our elections system. ”
~ Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D- Kent)
Story by Lauren Michelle Kinsey
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