By Marc Kovac
Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment to solidify early-voting hours and other election-related provisions said that they will not have enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.
State Rep. Alicia Reece, D-Cincinnati, who has spearheaded the effort, said during a press conference Tuesday at a Columbus church that volunteers have collected about 100,000 of the 380,000-plus required to place the issue before voters.
Reece said proponents of the constitutional change will continue collecting signatures, however, with an eye toward the 2015 general election. She also announced plans to open a Columbus office dedicated to that end and a fall conference to spotlight elections issues.
“We feel that we have a strong foundation with trained individuals and [additional partners] coming on every day,” Reece said, adding, “The ultimate goal is to have it on the ballot and to get it passed and put in the constitution.”
Reece and others announced the Ohio Voters Bill of Rights in January, and they gained required approvals from the attorney general and state ballot board in early March to begin circulating petitions.
Among other provisions, the amendment spells out how eligible residents could register and when they could vote, extending early in-person voting over the final two weekends before a general election, and attempting to ensure more challenged ballots would be counted.
Proponents want the provisions added to the constitution to prevent current or future lawmakers from changing election laws.
“The goal here is to get voting rights permanently in the constitution, so it’s not term-limited, it doesn’t go up or down with any candidate, something that would be around when all of us are gone, “ Reece said.
With the announcement concerning the Ohio Voter Bill of Rights, it does not appear that any groups currently circulating petitions have plans to submit signatures by today’s deadline for consideration for the November ballot.
Matt McClellan, a spokesman for Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, confirmed that backers of medical marijuana, right to work and other issues have not indicated to his office their intentions to make submissions.