Democrats and opponents of the recently passed election reform law have submitted petition signatures to try to put that issue on the ballot. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports.
A U haul truck full of petitions…..and a crowd of volunteers occupy the alley behind the Ohio Secretary of State’s office…..
Volunteers line up and using what’s commonly referred to as a bucket brigade, they pass the boxes of petitions down through the line that snakes into the building. More than 318 thousand petition signatures were collected. More than 231 thosuand valid signatures are needed. Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner says she and others working on the campaign only had six weeks to collect signatures to put a referendum of the new election reform law on the 2012 ballot. And she says they aren’t stopping.
Brunner – The fact that we need 231 thousand signatures and we are this far over, there is a potential that we wouldn’t need the extra signatures but as an insurance policy, we are going forward and getting those extra signatures.
If there are enough valid signatures, the new election reform law will be put on hold thi November and next November when Ohio voters will decide whether to enact the newly passed election reform law. Local boards of elections are ready to go ahead and operate under the same rules they’ve been using for the past couple of elections. That means, for now, early voting will begin next week in many places throughout the state. Weekend voting, including the weekend before the election, will be allowed. Those are just some of the things that would’ve been changed under the new law. Democratic congresswoman Marcia Fudge says this effort should send a strong message to majority Republicans.
Fudge – They should’ve had enough by now. We beat them back on SB 5, We beat them back on 194. I think they would be silly to try to do something else, just let the people’s voice be heard. That’s what they need to do.
Fudge says Democrats and minority voters will benefit by keeping the current election laws in place instead of going with the newer, more restrictive election rules.
Fudge – It is targeted certain pre-determined populations. They are the elderly, the disabled, students, minorities and the poor. Those are people who are more likely to vote Democratic. So absolutely it would have an effect. And since Ohio is always a swing state, it would only take a very small number to change the outcome of the election. And I do believe that it will make a difference by being in effect on the 2012 ballot instead of not taking effect two days from now. (outcue….two days from now :37)
Blessing – I don’t know how they come to that conclusion but they can put it on the ballot if they like.
That’s Republican State Representative Lou Blessing, one of the sponsors of the new election reform law Democrats oppose. He says the referendum effort is just making the election more complicated.
Blessing – The only thing I can conclude is people with these petitions want to create chaos and make it more difficult at the polls because that’s what will happen.
Blessing says he doesn’t think the new election reform rules would disenfranchise voters. He says the problem is that the pendulum on voting has swung too far.
Blessing – There were times, not too long ago, when you could vote on election day and if you weren’t there on Election Day, you couldn’t vote. We’ve, over the years, expanded that to the point that we’ve had 31 days and the boards were telling us they couldn’t do that administratively because it caused problems.
But Ohio’s Democratic Party Chair, Chris Redfern, says the real problem is that Republicans who voted the current law into place years ago to give more people the opportunity to vote don’t like the effect of it.
Redfern - What we’ve saw is what we know is you turn out more people in the state of Ohio, regardless of political stripe, Democrats and the middle class win because of it. It doesn’t matter what they think. It’s the law and they wrote the law and we abided by the law and we won because of it.
Democrats are hoping, by keeping the current rules in place, they can not only help their candidates win in 2012 but will also convince voters to keep the election rules they say make it easier to do that.