Fair Elections Ohio aims to overturn election-law changes
By Marc Kovac
A coalition has resubmitted petition language it hopes to circulate throughout the state as part of an effort to overturn Republican-backed election-law changes.
Fair Elections Ohio, which includes former Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and liberal advocacy group Progress Ohio, hope the second submission to the Ohio attorney general and secretary of state will pass muster.
The group’s initial attempt was rejected by Attorney General Mike DeWine earlier this month, noting that the petition language cited the wrong sections of state code and inaccurately represented state law.
Brian Rothenberg, executive director of Progress Ohio, said the coalition submitted new petition language late last week.
The referendum seeks to repeal House Bill 194, which opponents say includes provisions that will make it harder for voters — particularly the elderly, poor and minority residents — to participate in Ohio elections.
The bill shortened Ohio’s early voting period, eliminated the so-called “golden week” during which people could register to vote and cast ballots on the same day and moved next year’s presidential primary to May from March.
It also prohibited election boards from sending unsolicited absentee- ballot applications to eligible voters.
Proponents say the changes were needed to help prevent fraud and ensure election rules are applied consistently across the state.
The next step in the process will involve the secretary of state’s office verifying an initial 1,000 signatures that Fair Elections Ohio was required to submit and the attorney general’s office certifying the petition summary language.
If approved, the group would have to gather more than 231,000 valid signatures from registered Ohio voters before the end of September.
The issue would appear on the November 2012 ballot.