Ohio Democrats and constituency groups are considering another ballot initiative, this time to overturn Ohio’s new elections law, known as HB194.
Democratic coalition groups have already placed a measure on the ballot this fall–Issue 2–to repeal a collective bargaining law, and preliminary discussions are underway for a repeal of the recently-enacted apportionment plan. Additionally, the Ohio teachers’ union (Ohio Education Association, or OEA) is urging legislators to block HB136, a bill that would allow education vouchers.
Opponents of HB194 have found additional help from President Obama, whose campaign will help Ohio Democrats gather signatures to get a repeal measure on the ballot. The link on the Ohio Democratic Party website is linked to the president’s 2012 campaign site. According to state law, opponents must gather approximately 231,000 valid signatures by Friday in order to stop implementation of the law.
The Ohio Democratic Party calls the bill “voter suppression” primarily because it reduces the early voting time frames. David Waks wrote a “guide to the Republican Voter Suppression Bill” on the Ohio Democratic website. He claims the bill “[p]rohibits In-Person Early Voting” from Saturday to Monday and “[d]ramatically reduces In-Person Early Voting from 35 days to 12 days.”
Section 3509.01 of HB194 prohibits early voting on Sunday only. Likewise, the section stipulates that absentee ballots must be ready 21 days before the election and in-person early ballots 17 days before the election. Other states, such as Florida, have early voting windows of only 10 days.
In addition to the petition drive to overturn HB194, Democrats and labor unions have already placed Issue 2 on the ballot this November to repeal Senate Bill 5, which places deep restrictions on the scope of collective bargaining for public sector employee unions.
Democrats are also interested in a referendum to invalidate the recently-enacted re-districting plan. As a result of the 2010 Census, Ohio lost 2 Congressional seats. The GOP-dominated Apportionment Board eliminated one seat currently held by each party—the current 13-5 Republican advantage will be reduced to 12-4.
Given the wave of referenda, it seems likely that Democrats and labor unions might also gather signatures to challenge HB136, a school voucher measure under consideration in the House Education Committee. The bill would grant scholarships to parents in order to allow their children to attend alternative schools, both public and private.