Ohio’s controversial new voting law will get some congressional scrutiny next week, when a top Senate Democrat convenes a field hearing on the measure in Cleveland. Sen. Dick Durbin, the Senate’s No. 2 Democratic leader and chairman of a key Senate Judiciary subcommittee, announced Monday that he would hold a hearing on the law May 7 at the Carl B. Stokes United States Court House. Durbin, of Illinois, and other Democrats fear the Ohio law—and other similar state restrictions—are aimed at making it harder for citizens to vote in the November election, particularly lower-income and minority voters who tend to support Democrats. “A spate of recently passed state voting laws seem designed to restrict voting by making it harder for millions of disabled, young, minority, rural, elderly, homeless, and low income Americans to vote,” Durbin said in a statement Monday.
The Ohio statute shrinks the number of days voters can cast early ballots, it nixes voting on the weekend before the election, and overturns a requirement that poll workers direct to their correct precincts, among other things. Opponents in the state legislature are trying to repeal it, and they’ve also gathered enough signatures to make it a referendum question in the fall.