Ohio House Democrats held a press conference to urge caution as House Republicans look to move forward with an unprecedented partial legislative repeal (SB 295) of HB 194. The measures also includes additional language beyond repealing HB 194, which lawmakers contend will make this unprecedented legislative maneuver is ripe for a constitutional challenge.
“This theme is playing out across the country. In the 2008 presidential election, record numbers of young people, lower income people, and minorities voted. Since then, Republicans have been executing a strategy to make it more difficult for those populations to vote, thereby trying to ensure their success at the ballot box this November – not by winning a clean campaign on the issues, but by gaming the system, creating voter confusion and chaos, and pursuing a set of punitive rules that hurt voters. It is outrageous, and we will continue to speak out about their dirty tricks and tactics,” said State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D- Kent).
Most recently Reps. Clyde and Gerberry reached out to Speaker Batchelder over the legislative spring break, urging caution with the Republicans’ unprecedented legislative repeal bill of HB 194 through SB 295. In a letter to Speaker Batchelder they laid out three consensus-building steps on how Democrats can work with the Republican leaders to ensure a smooth election this fall. First, any bill should contain a clean repeal of HB 194, not a partial repeal like SB 295. Second, bi-partisan support and consent of the petition committee would be required. Third, Republicans would have to make a firm public commitment not to make other election law changes at any point before November. A copy of the letter to the Speaker is attached.
“Time and time again we have given Republicans the opportunity to work with us to improve our elections system, but they refuse and at every turn Republican leaders of this state prove they will stop at nothing to disenfranchise voters,” said State Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry, ranking member of the State Government and Elections Committee (D-Austintown). I am incredibly disappointed in my colleague’s decision to continue to pursue yet another lawsuit; it is a complete abdication of our duty to the people of this state to use their hard earned tax dollars in an attempt to make their voices silent and their votes unheard.”
“A pre-emptive legislative repeal to a law that has been certified for a citizen’s referendum has never occurred in the Ohio General Assembly’s 209-year history. Pursuing such an unprecedented maneuver with broad partisan opposition will only strengthen a potential constitutional challenge,” said State Rep. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron). “Furthermore, continuing to pursue lawsuits at the federal and state level on the taxpayer’s dime in an effort to receive a different outcome is simply unacceptable.”
Yesterday, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals again ruled against Secretary of State Jon Husted and Hamilton County Republicans, ordering that provisional ballots in the undecided 2010 Hamilton Country Juvenile Court judge’s race be counted. In response, Senate President Niehaus and Rep. Blessing filed a suit in the Ohio Supreme Court against Secretary Husted in another desperate attempt to throw out registered voters’ provisional ballots. Using taxpayer dollars to argue against counting eligible voters ballots, often cast due to poll worker error, shows just how out of whack Republicans’ priorities are.