Representatives of Fair Elections Ohio, a coalition of state legislators, voting rights advocates, labor unions, progressive organizations, and concerned citizens across the State of Ohio, today turned in the first 1,000 valid signatures for a HB194 referendum to the Ohio Attorney General.
“In just five days, concerned citizens from across the state have stepped up to bring HB194 directly to the voters so they can decide if their voting rights should be diminished or curtailed. Because of the nature of the rights at stake, thoughtful, serious volunteers who believe in keeping access to voting available to all eligible Ohioans have done a great job in the gathering the signatures that will allow this process to move forward,” said former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. Fair Elections Ohio had dozens of volunteers across the state collect this first round of signatures from over a dozen counties.
The Secretary of State and the Attorney General’s office have 10 business days, or until August 1st, to certify the first 1,000 valid signatures and review the summary of the partial referendum on HB194 contained in the petition. When the petition is certified by both state officers, Fair Elections Ohio will begin the process to collect 231,154 valid signatures by September 29, 2011, to qualify for the next available general election ballot in 2012.
“Ohioans across the state are coming out to support fair elections and getting involved in the HB 194 referendum campaign. This is not an issue about Republicans fighting Democrats or urban areas fighting rural areas. This is about support for an open electoral process that works for everyone, not just the chosen few. The effort to repeal these portions of HB194 is a fight to ensure we are still moving forward toward justice, not taking huge steps backward,” said Bishop Timothy Clarke of the First Church of God in Columbus.
“As more voters become interested in the political process, we should be working to encourage them to exercise their rights to vote, not stifle them. However the provisions of HB194 do nothing to increase the security of elections,” said Senator Kearney.
Fair Elections Ohio is in the process of staffing offices in at least five regions of the state, including offices in Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo, Cincinnati, and Akron. The effort will coordinate both volunteer and organizational efforts to successfully move the referendum forward.