A Columbus-based federal judge has dismissed an early-voting lawsuit left over from the 2012 presidential election, saying the matter is now moot. U.S. District Court Judge George C. Smith affirmed Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted’s decision not to place a referendum on the November 2012 ballot that challenged a law prohibiting in-person voting on the weekend before the election.
A potential last-minute agreement between House Republicans and Democrats could end a bitter fight over the repeal of a GOP-crafted election-law overhaul. Just minutes before voting to repeal House Bill 194 — and as House Democrats bombed away on the GOP in floor speeches — House Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina, and Minority Leader Armond Budish, D-Beachwood, worked out a deal to suspend the vote. Republicans had planned to repeal House Bill 194 and end the November referendum effort. But Fair Elections Ohio, the coalition of Democrats and progressive groups that worked closely with President Barack Obama’s re-election team to challenge the law, resisted the repeal. The group argued that it would deny people the right to vote against the law and would have blocked early voting in the three days before Election Day. The group and other Democrats had promised to fight the GOP repeal effort in court. Republicans argued that the opposition simply was a political effort to keep the referendum to help drive up voter turnout.
Senate President Tom Niehaus announced Thursday that majority Republicans introduced legislation to repeal the divisive elections overhaul bill that is scheduled for a referendum vote in November, Gongwer News Service reports. Sen. Bill Coley (R-Middletown) is the sponsor of the bill (SB295). Republicans hope “to take a step back and revisit the debate in hopes of reaching a more bipartisan consensus,” Niehaus, R-New Richmond, said in a statement.
Ohio: Ohio secretary of state certifies signatures to put elections law on next year’s ballot | cleveland.com
Voters will decide whether to approve another key piece of legislation passed by Republican lawmakers, this time an election reform bill that Democrats have called a “voter suppression” bill. A referendum on House Bill 194, a sweeping reform of election laws, will appear on the November 2012 ballot, Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office announced Friday.
Opponents of the bill, largely Democrats and voting rights activists, collected 307,358 valid signatures, according to the secretary of state’s office. Petitioners needed 231,150 signatures to put the law on the ballot.
The successful petition drive comes on the heels of Democrats’ victory in overturning Senate Bill 5, a controversial collective bargaining law. That law, supported by Republican Gov. John Kasich and GOP legislative leaders, was overwhelmingly rejected in the November election.
Opponents of a new elections law scheduled to take effect Friday say they have collected enough signatures to challenge the law and hold it in abeyance until after the November 2012 election.
A Statehouse press conference is scheduled for Thursday by Fair Elections Ohio to announce that it has at least the 231,324 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters for a referendum on House Bill 194, signed into law on July 1 by Gov. John Kasich.
Brian Rothenberg, executive director of ProgressOhio and spokesman for Fair Elections Ohio, would not reveal the number of signatures gathered, but said, “We’re way ahead of projections and we expect to have a good day tomorrow.”
Opponents of Ohio’s new election overhaul were cleared Thursday to proceed with their effort to ask voters to repeal the law, which makes changes such as moving the 2012 presidential primary from March to May in the traditional presidential swing state.
Fair Elections Ohio had wanted to challenge only parts of the law — not the primary switch — but hit a snag earlier this month when Attorney General Mike DeWine ruled against wording the group planned to use to collect signatures needed to make the ballot. Based on DeWine’s ruling, organizers resubmitted their phrasing to challenge the entire bill.
DeWine gave the group his approval on Thursday, and the state’s top elections official also said Fair Elections Ohio had the 1,000 valid signatures it needed to continue with its effort. Opponents must now gather roughly 231,000 signatures by Sept. 29 to get a referendum on the 2012 ballot.
Ohio’s attorney general has rejected language that opponents of the state’s new election law had wanted to use in their effort to have parts of the measure overturned.
The decision is a setback for opponents. They need Attorney General Mike DeWine’s approval before they can begin gathering the roughly 231,000 valid signatures needed by Sept. 29 to suspend the parts of the law until voters can decide in 2012 whether to keep or repeal them. DeWine said Monday the summary from the group Fair Elections Ohio did not describe the legislation accurately or fairly.
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.