Activists in Ohio last month thought they’d managed to put on hold a law that cuts early voting. With help from the Obama campaign, they collected 318,460 signatures – enough to force a referendum on HB 194. The law would reduce the time for early voting by half, and absentee voting by almost that much.
They thought they’d put those restrictions on the shelf until voters decide the law’s fate in November 2012. But they were wrong, because another new Ohio bill, HB 224, also cuts in-person absentee voting, and that one takes effect this month.
“The only possible reason for legislators trying to keep people from voting the weekend before the election is to game the system,” Brian Rothenberg of Progress Ohio tells the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “It’s bad enough they want to play politics with all kinds of other issues. But to play politics with the sacred right to vote is un-American.”
Ohio Republicans billed HB 224 as way to make it easier for overseas military to vote. Today Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, ruled that the law will stand. Which means that come election day, more Ohioans will stand in line to vote, or else give up. Not surprisingly, the Cleveland paper reports general confusion among voters over what’s allowed and when.
Way back: Ohio Republicans considered dodging repeal of SB5 by duplicating union-stripping measures elsewhere.