Voting-rights advocates are calling on Gov. John Kasich to veto a handful of election-reform bills moving through the state legislature, saying the proposed law changes would make it more difficult for eligible Ohioans to cast ballots. “What we see right now is a concerted effort by Gov. Kasich and our very, very hyper-partisan state Legislature to undermine the democratic process and build a brick wall between voters and the ballot box,” said Deidra Reese, representing the Ohio Fair Election Network. Among other bills, legislation is pending in the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee to eliminate “Golden Week,” the period during which residents can register to vote and cast ballots at the same time.
Other bills would increase how often voters’ addresses are checked against other government databases, permit the secretary of state to mail unsolicited absentee-ballot applications to voters while prohibiting other public officials from doing the same, require certain information be included on provisional ballots cast by voters whose eligibility is in question, and reduce the amount of time voters casting the latter have to confirm their status.
Comparable provisions were included in House Bill 194 of the last general assembly, which was initially passed, then the subject of a voter referendum before lawmakers preemptively repealed it before a November vote.
The bills already have moved through the Senate and await a final vote in the House. The latter has its final session day of the year next week.