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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Push is on to add Voters Bill of Rights to Ohio Constitution

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Friday, January 19, 2024   

Ohioans may have the chance to add a new Voters Bill of Rights to the state Constitution to support ballot access.

Voting rights' advocates said they want better controls on the state's purging of voter registration rolls. They also want early voting days restored, and protections enshrined in the Constitution, rather than only in law.

Petee Talley, executive director of the Ohio Coalition on Black Civic Participation, said although previous attempts to make the additions have been rejected, she is optimistic the changes would increase turnout and make elections more fair.

"The amendment is going to help build an equitable path to the ballot box for all Ohioans," Talley pointed out. "While continuing to ensure that Ohio has elections that are secure and are administered with integrity whenever we voters go to the ballot box."

The coalition has submitted amendment language and aims to gather at least 400,000 signatures starting in February for this coming November's ballot. First, they need Attorney General and Ohio Ballot Board approval, within the next 10 days.

Last week, a federal judge upheld Republican-backed House Bill 458, which pushed several new voting restrictions through the Ohio Legislature. The ruling found the restrictions on in-person and absentee voting processes did not violate the U.S. Constitution.

Talley noted voters recently rejected proposals to restrict constitutional amendments, which has motivated the new push to reinforce voting rights.

"We're hopeful that now is the time to take such a basic issue that is the right of all Americans and try and enshrine that in the Constitution," Talley stressed. "Especially given that it sometimes feels like politicians in Columbus are not listening to the will of the voters."

In August of last year, voters decided not to make the Ohio constitutional amendment process more difficult. Instead, they voted to allow amendments to pass with a simple majority rather than a supermajority.

Reporting by Ohio News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.


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