Despite pleas to slow down and reconsider portions of a bill that would limit how long signatures can be collected for ballot initiatives, the House will vote this week on the measure that already has Senate approval. Senate Bill 47 was voted out of the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee yesterday afternoon on a 9-5 vote after former Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner advised the committee members, “If you pass this lickety-split, it’s going to make you look bad.” No one testified at yesterday’s hearing in favor of the petition part of the bill, though a representative from the Ohio Association of Election Officials spoke in support of other parts of the bill.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, would shorten the time petitioners have to gather the necessary 231,000 signatures to get an initiative on the ballot. Ohio law now allows groups to continue gathering signatures for an initiative after the filing deadline while election officials verify signatures turned in. That process can take several days and even weeks to complete. If the signatures are found to be short of the required number, the group then has another 10 days to gather more.
Seitz wants to eliminate additional signature-gathering during the verification process and keep it to the 10-day period.
The bill also raises the threshold for competitive bidding for county boards of elections and deals with other election-related issues, but the petition-circulation part garnered the most attention. Peg Rosenfield, an elections specialist with the League of Women Voters, said that while her group is not litigious she expects some group will challenge the constitutionality.
Full Article: Ohio House panel OKs elections bill | The Columbus Dispatch.