After taking office in 2010, Democratic Ohio State Rep. Alicia Reece was determined to push back against Republican-sponsored voting restrictions. So Reece did what a lawmaker is supposed to do: She introduced bills, drew up amendments, pushed for hearings and testified before commissions. But with the GOP in complete control of state government beginning January 2011, she didn’t get far. Reece, 42, grew up immersed in the civil rights movement. She volunteered for Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition before she was old enough to vote, and at college in Louisiana she organized her dorm to fight David Duke, a onetime state lawmaker and former Ku Klux Klan leader who was running for governor. So with Democrats shut out in Columbus, and no end in sight to GOP efforts to restrict access to the ballot, Reece decided to go back to her roots. “I tried to work on the inside,” Reece, 42, explained on a recent Saturday over lunch at Pleasant Ridge Chili—the self-proclaimed inventor of gravy cheese fries. “Now, I had to go outside, and get organizing a people’s movement.”
That’s how Reece later found herself at a Cincinnati strip mall barbershop, urging customers, staff—even the guy who stopped by selling iced tea—to sign a petition to get the Voters Bill of Rights (VBOR) on the ballot this fall. The initiative would permanently enshrine voting rights into Ohio’s constitution. The goal, backers say, is to end once and for all the partisan assault on voting that in recent years has roiled the nation’s most pivotal presidential swing state.
Ohio State Rep. Alicia Reece speaks at a rally at AFSCME Ohio Council 8 in Cincinnati, Ohio on June 21, 2014. Photo by Maddie McGarvey for MSNBC
Full Article: In Ohio, a ‘people’s movement’ for voting rights | MSNBC.