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Democrats promising legal fight over election bills

Democrats promising legal fight over election bills

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- The Ohio House approved proposals to trim early voting and set rules for mailing unsolicited absentee ballot applications.

Ohioans can cast an absentee ballot by mail or in person without giving any reason. Currently, early voting starts 35 days prior to Election Day.

One bill would cut that time by eliminating so-called "golden week" - a period when people can both register to vote and cast an early ballot. Without those days, early voting would then typically start 29 days before Election Day.

"People are still going to have almost a full month to vote," said State Rep. Wes Retherford, a Hamilton Republican.

The House passed it by a 58-36 margin.

Another bill would let the Secretary of State mail unsolicited applications for general elections and only if the legislature directed the money for it. Other public officials would be banned.

"This legislature launches the most blatant and overt attack on voting in Ohio! You all know that that's what you're doing! You know it!," said State Rep. Connie Pillich, a Cincinnati Democrat.

Ohio's larger, urban counties traditionally have sent voters the applications without residents requesting them. State Rep. Mike Dovilla, a Berea Republican, thinks all voters should be treated equally.

"Treating voters consistently throughout the state, whether they are from a rural, suburban, or urban area, is an essential element of protecting each citizen's equal right to the ballot box," Dovilla said.

The bill was approved by the House on a 59-36 vote.

Democrats are already promising to fight the bills in the courts and if need be at the ballot box.

"Upon signature of the governor the Ohio Democratic Party will file an action in federal court indicating that this particular piece of legislation violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution," said Rep. Chris Redfern, who is also chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. He also says it violates the Civil Rights Act and Voter Protection Act passed in the 1960s.

The Ohio Senate agreed to changes made in the House. That sends the bills to Gov. John Kasich for his signature.

 

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