The Ohio State Legislators are taking up SB 295, the bill repealing HB 194, will be up for a committee vote (and probably headed to the Senate floor) on Wednesday. If you remember, HB 194 dramatically changed the voting procedure in Ohio. NEOCH and most advocates in the state opposed these changes, and helped to get the citizens of Ohio to be able to vote on this law.
Government Oversight and Reform Committee on March 21, 2012 at 8:30 a.m. in the Senate Finance Room.
NEOCH supports the overturning of this law, and hope that there is no replacement for 2012. We can work with both political parties on an overhaul of the voting procedures in a non-election year of 2013.
As of now, SB 295 is purely a repeal of the horrible bill passed last year (HB 194). There are no replacement measures contained within the bill. That doesn't mean that they can't amend the bill when it goes over to the House to include replacement measures meant to replicate some of HB 194's provisions. Even if SB 295 remains a purely repeal bill, it clears the way for the Ohio General Assembly to introduce another bill to once again consider more election law changes in the middle of an important election year. Advocates believe that the legislators behind the HB 194 do want to introduce replacement legislation.
NEOCH believes that this would confuse the voter. We also have a stake in keeping this law in place because any change would overturn our 2010 settlement. Would we be able to educate 88 County Boards of Elections before voting begins in October. We remember that there was huge confusion in both 2004 and 2006 when the legislature waited until the last minute to make changes in the process of voting in Ohio. If it is just this bill that passes, laws would remain the same. This is because of the heroic effort last year, led by Fair Elections Ohio, and contributed to by so many of you, to collect enough petition signatures to place a HB 194 referendum before voters in November 2012. However, SB 295 will undermine those efforts and Ohio citizens' constitutional rights to a referendum.
Through SB 295, Senate and House majorities are trying to repeal a bill they passed less than a year ago! It is also unprecedented in Ohio that the legislature would try to repeal a law that is under citizen's referendum. It is great that the legislature finally sees that HB 194 is not good for Ohio. It is also likely that advocacy groups such as NEOCH would challenge any changes in the law at this point. So why have the fight. Just repeal the bad HB 194 and leave voting law alone this year.
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