The effort by Ohio Republicans to make voting harder in the nation’s most pivotal swing state has triggered a furious response—one that could yet succeed in fighting off some of the worst effects of the new restrictions. “Since these bills have been passed, we have seen an incredible response from all corners of the state,” State Senator Nina Turner, who has helped lead the effort, told msnbc. “Ohioans are just plain tired of their ballot access being made into a political tool. From local leaders stepping out, to the court system, to the ballot, we are seeing the people push back against an effort to limit their voice using all the tools at their disposal.” Last month, Ohio lawmakers passed GOP-backed bills that cut six days of early voting, ended same-day voter registration, made it harder to vote absentee, and made it more likely that provisional ballots will be rejected. Just days after the bills were signed, Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican,announced the elimination of Sunday voting, effectively ending the “Souls to the Polls” drives organized in recent years by many African-American churches.
But in response, supporters of voting rights have launched a vigorous, multi-pronged resistance campaign involving new legislation, potential lawsuits, political ads, public education, and even a bid to change the state constitution to strengthen voting rights.
The latest step came Tuesday afternoon, when Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald was set to introduce a bill to allow the county—Ohio’s largest—to continue mailing absentee ballot applications to all registered voters without the sign-off from the legislature that the new state law requires.
Hours earlier, Turner, a Democrat who is challenging Husted this fall, led a rally at the state capitol building in Columbus, aimed at highlighting the impact of the changes on students and seniors in particular. A similar rally, organized by Turner last week, featured church and community leaders denouncing the changes.