A Senate committee began hearings Wednesday on legislation to repeal controversial GOP-backed election law changes, a move that would stop a referendum from appearing on the November ballot. Proponents want lawmakers to give Democrats who gathered enough signatures to place House Bill 194 before voters what they want — a full repeal, with a new election reform package negotiated between Republicans and the minority party. “We should step back and reassess the situation,” Sen. Bill Coley, a Republican from southwestern Ohio, told members of the Senate’s Government Oversight and Reform Committee. “Clearly, some issues should be revisited.”
House Bill 194 proposes a number of changes to Ohio’s election laws, including eliminating the “golden week” during which people can register to vote and cast ballots on the same day and prohibiting election boards from sending unsolicited absentee ballot applications to eligible voters.
Proponents believe the changes are needed to help prevent fraud and ensure election rules are applied consistently across the state. But opponents say the changes will make it harder for the elderly, low-income residents and minorities to cast ballots.