‘That’s How You Suppress Voter Engagement’: GOP Anti-Voter Law Widely Panned as Regressive, Political
May 11, 2021
Columbus, OH — Last week, statehouse Republicans formally introduced regressive, anti-voter legislation that would take Ohio backward in the fight for voting rights in our state. The legislation builds on bills passed in Georgia and Florida that place more burdens on voters and includes confusing language that could discourage Ohioans from voting.
All of this represents a solution in search of a problem, as even Republicans Jon Husted and Frank LaRose have admitted that voter fraud is ‘exceedingly rare,’ making it clear that the introduction of this legislation is purely political.
Read more about this harmful bill below:
“GOP lawmakers, who acknowledge that Ohio has had ‘good clean elections without controversy,’ insist election bills are routine affairs to make the voting process more secure. Bull. This is not about building on past successes. This is about pulling back, eliminating early, in-person voting the Monday before Election Day, removing a week that Ohioans used to apply for a mail ballot, requiring two forms of ID, instead of one, for online absentee ballot requests. These are hoops to jump through that discourage voting, not encourage it. That’s how you suppress voter engagement.
“2020 was a testament to the endurance of free and fair elections run by the book. We don’t need to restore confidence in the voting process. We need to vigorously protect it from politicians consumed with keeping power who are willing to disenfranchise Ohio voters, based on a lie, to that end.”
“The proposal would also limit drop boxes for mail-in ballots to 10 days before Election Day instead of the entire early voting period. Each county board of elections could have three receptacles on their premises.
“Boards could have one drop box for the entire early voting period during a pandemic or emergency.
“Some Ohio counties, including Hamilton and Cuyahoga, have used drop boxes for years. Ohio lawmakers approved the use of drop boxes during the COVID-19 pandemic when Ohio’s primary shifted to mail ballots rather than in-person voting. Several judges ruled that Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose was allowed to set rules on how drop boxes were used, but he deferred to lawmakers.”
“The measure would also tighten voter ID requirements, limit drop boxes to election board premises and erase early voting the day before an election, steps which some Democrats oppose. State Rep. Willis Blackshear Jr., D-Dayton, said he opposes doing away with early in-person voting on the Monday before elections following a weekend in which campaigns typically make a final blitz.
‘“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” said Blackshear, who worked at the Montgomery County Board of Elections before voters sent him to the Statehouse.
“While any day before an election can be chaotic, Blackshear said early voting wrapped up at 2 p.m.
‘“I felt like we were able to manage it,” he said. “I don’t see why we need to take that out all of a sudden. It’s worked very well for us these last years.”’
“The Ohio House bill would limit the number of drop boxes to just one location per county, and that location can have up to three drop boxes. It would also allow drop boxes to be used only in the 10 days leading up to Election Day, a huge decrease from last year when Ohio voters had 30 days to return their ballot via drop box.
“Those boxes would also only be allowed outside of the county Board of Elections offices, hindering voters who don’t live near the offices and don’t have easy access to transportation. Such voters would have to find other ways to return their ballots.
“In addition to the drop box changes, the bill would impose new restrictions on voter registrations and absentee voting, including limiting what kind of mail-in ballots can be “cured” ― the process of fixing small mistakes made by voters on their ballots so that the votes can count. HB 294 would also move the absentee ballot request deadline up seven days and eliminate in-person absentee voting on the Monday before Election Day.”
“Like many of the pieces of legislation that have either passed state legislatures or are moving toward passage, H.B. 294 targets absentee ballots as well as early in-person voting, two voting methods Trump railed against and has demanded Republicans limit in future elections. The Ohio House bill would slash the number of absentee ballot drop boxes in the state to just one per county and cut the number of days voters have to drop ballots off from 30 down to just 10. The bill would also eliminate the Monday before Election Day as an early in-person voting day.”