Concerned about the coming wave of restrictive voting laws in their state, black Ohio leaders are working to get a “Voters’ Bill of Rights” on the ballot this fall. But the state’s top legal official, a Republican, is putting obstacles in their path. And some voting law experts suggest he’s twisting the law to do so. Ohio remains the single most pivotal state for presidential elections, so its rules for voting could well have major national implications come 2016. The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) wants a constitutional amendment that would declare voting “a fundamental right,” expand early voting, and make it harder to use challenges to disqualify ballots, among other measures. The effort is a response to an aggressive push by state Republican lawmakers to make voting more difficult. Bills that would cut early voting, end same-day registration, and make it harder to get an absentee ballot are likely to pass the GOP-controlled legislature in the coming weeks. There is no explicit right to vote in the U.S. Constitution—an omission some lawmakers want to fix.
Earlier this month, the OLBC submitted its proposed amendment to the office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, a Republican, along with more than 1,000 preliminary signatures, as required by law. But last week, DeWine announcedthat he wouldn’t approve the measure, citing what he called “misrepresentations” in the text of the proposed amendment.
That setback means the measure’s backers can’t start collecting the more than 350,000 signatures they’ll need to get it on the ballot this fall. First, they’ll need to gather another 1,000 preliminary signatures, re-submit a new version of the amendment, then hope for DeWine’s signoff. A different state office will also need to confirm that the amendment shouldn’t be split into two or more pieces. Only then can the proper signature-gathering drive begin. OLBC officials have said that’s what they plan to do. But the denial will cost them precious time and resources.
Full Article: Voters’ Bill of Rights blocked in Ohio | MSNBC.