If proponents can gather the required 385,247 voter signatures, Ohioans this fall may be asked to add an Ohio Voters Bill of Rights to the state constitution. The amendment’s centerpiece is a declaration that voting is a fundamental right in Ohio. Legalese aside, that statement would make it much tougher for Statehouse partisans to try to mess with voting rights, especially the voting rights of black Ohioans, something some (not all) General Assembly Republicans have repeatedly tried to do. Procedurally, the wording of the proposal is now awaiting clearance from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. Then, after state Ballot Board review, the official committee calling for the measure, which includes two Greater Clevelanders, the Rev. Otis Moss Jr. and Rep. Vernon Sykes, an Akron Democrat, can begin seeking petition signatures from Ohio voters.
Gathering that many signatures statewide is no easy task, especially given that a certain proportion must be gathered from at least 44 of the state’s 88 counties. But the timing is right and the issue is ripe.
Among other features, the Ohio Voters Bill of Rights would allow Ohioans to register to vote online, something fairly common in other states but which Ohio doesn’t allow, thanks to the opposition of key General Assembly Republicans. (To his credit, Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, the state’s chief election officer, has repeatedly asked the General Assembly to authorize on-line registration.)