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Election debate won’t end soon



Published: Sat, November 3, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

COLUMBUS

Just when you thought there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and all of this election talk would be over and done, the Republicans who control the state Senate are indicating the topic could linger through the holidays.

No, there won’t be anymore television or radio commercials or robo calls or from candidates or emails asking for $3 or $5 or $100 donations. There probably won’t be many more glossy, full-color postcards crowding out your bills in the mailbox.

But there’s potential for nonstop talk of voting and provisional ballots and weekend polling hours and the like during the coming lame duck session, set to begin in about a week.

Seasoned Statehouse reporters know that the few weeks between an election and the start of a new general assembly are the time when lawmakers sometimes try to sneak through legislation that wouldn’t have as high a probability of passage earlier in the session.

You’ll recall there was much talk of potential bipartisan cooperation on election law changes among the Republicans who pushed the repeal of House Bill 194, the controversial voting legislation that was the subject of a referendum before lawmakers erased it from the law books.

Last week, Republican Senate President Tom Niehaus said he planned to name a working group, with participation from majority and minority members, to review this year’s election cycle and recommend changes for the better.

At least a couple of topics should be near the top of their agenda.

One is the subject of provisional ballots, which are cast by voters who forget to bring the proper ID or, for whatever other reason, have their voting eligibility questioned on Election Day.

Lawsuits

Such ballots have been the subject of lawsuits, including one questioning whether ballots cast in the proper polling place but at the wrong precinct table should be allowed.

Another likely topic of conversation for the Senate working group is weekend voting. Early polls were open during the final weekend following a legal challenge that made its way all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Where you stand on both of those issues, there should be some agreement that law changes are needed to prevent future lawsuits and outcry in the middle of already-contentious campaigns.

There are other issues, as well. The working group will take them up, and some sort of legislation is probable in coming weeks.

Which means several more weeks of proponents arguing the need to change laws to avoid real or perceived election fraud.

And several more weeks of opponents arguing that the former want only to tip elections in their favor while making it harder for elderly, low-income and minority residents to cast ballots.

But at least they won’t be all over our televisions, radios, telephones and mailboxes hammering on the subject.

Marc Kovac is The Vindicator’s Statehouse correspondent. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.


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