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Effort Underway to Block Ohio’s Election Reform Law



July 19, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio's recently signed election-reform law might not stay on the books, if a new coalition gets its way.

Fair Elections Ohio is beginning an effort to overturn parts of House Bill 194, including measures that reduce the time allowed for absentee voting, curb access to early voting and include requirements regarding whether a poll worker is allowed to tell a voter if he or she is in the wrong precinct.

While supporters say the law ensures a fair and transparent election, former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner says it makes it harder to vote and to have your vote counted.

"Ohio voters like choices. This starts limiting choices in terms of less time to vote, less convenient hours, less time to vote absentee."

Another provision in the law would shorten the time allowed to conduct a petition drive, such as this one. The law also includes a minimum size requirement for cities only. Brunner says that disrespects the differences between urban and rural communities.

"Where you have large urban areas with a large amount of voters, those counties have to do a little different things than they do in the rural areas, and vice versa."

Ohio has bounced back from some poorly executed elections, Brunner says, adding that this law is a step in the wrong direction.

"The old adage, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.' We're really not sure why this needs to happen after we just dealt with extremely different rules that just went into place in 2005 and 2006."

Fair Elections Ohio includes labor, church and voting-rights groups. If the coalition collects the initial 1,000 signatures and has its petition language certified, it will be given until the end of September to collect the full 232,000 names needed. If that happens, the law would be put on hold until the November 2012 election.

The text of HB 194 is online at legislature.state.oh.us.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH
 

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