In an effort to avoid another disastrous referendum for their party, Ohio Senate Republicans yesterday passed Senate Bill 295, repealing their own House Bill 194, the controversial voter suppression bill aiming to disenfranchise the voting rights of a large portion of Ohioans. Instead of striking down the controversial bill, SB 295 reinstates some of the most egregious attacks on voting rights, including eliminating the three-day early voting window right before Election Day, the busiest voting time of the year.
An editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal summarized the attack well:
As it is, after a careful examination, State Rep. Kathleen Clyde made a disturbing discovery. The Kent Democrat found that the Senate’s “repeal” bill, Senate Bill 295, really amounts to a sneak attack. Instead of simply striking down House Bill 194, the repeal bill seeks to reinstate one of the most objectionable features — imposing a deadline on in-person absentee voting starting the Friday before Election Day, cutting off a three-day window when interest reaches its peak.
State Representative Kathleen Clyde spoke out against the bill, explaining further:
SB 295 is not a simple repeal bill like the Republicans are claiming. Instead, it is a sneak attack on the voting rights of Ohioans. It includes one of the most harmful provisions of HB 194 – the elimination of the three busiest days of early voting. In our two largest counties alone, nearly 20 percent of early voters voted on those final 3 days in 2008. The elimination of these days will cause voter confusion, long lines at the polls and put further strain on our elections system”, said Rep. Clyde. “Today’s repeal of HB 194 is not the end of the road – in fact it’s likely the beginning of another long fight for voting rights and the rights of hundreds of thousands of Ohioans.
Another embarrassing defeat at the polls wasn’t the only motivation for Ohio Republicans to pull this sneak attack during yesterday’s voting session, ignoring the thousands of Ohioans who fought for the chance to repeal HB 194 on the 2012 ballot. Statehouse Republicans are primed to replace HB 194 with more confusing legislation, burying the same voter suppression tactics by hiding them in hundreds of pages of laws.
I urge my colleagues in the House to stand with me and remove the provisions in SB 295 that eliminate early voting the weekend prior to Election Day”, said State Representative Michael Stinziano. That is the only way to preserve the stated intent of SB 295 and to return Ohio’s election law to its status prior to HB 194.
Of course, Plunderbund nails down on why these changes to restrict voting access are so important:
If HB 295 is approved, we will have been robbed of our referendum vote on HB 194 in November and a crucial early voting window will be gone. Why is accessibility of voting so important? The answer is simple. When fewer people vote, Republicans win.
The Republican attack on voting rights will next head to the Ohio House when it reconvenes after its two week break. You can read more coverage on the Republican’s voter suppression attacks here.