COLUMBUS – State Reps. Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) and Kathleen Clyde (D- Kent) criticized the Senate plan to repeal HB 194 and to end early voting the weekend before Election Day as a political tactic to subvert the will of Ohio voters.
“SB 295 is a blatant attempt by the Majority to silence the voice of Ohio voters and is an attempt to codify provisions of HB 194 right under the noses of Ohio’s voters using HB 224 as the pretext. I sponsored HB 224 with Rep. Mike Dovilla (R-Berea) in an attempt to put aside partisan politics and expand voting accessibility for military voters,” said Rep. Stinziano, a former Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections. “HB 224 was not meant to address any other issues of election law and the provisions of HB 224 were purposely separated from other contentious elections bills, HB 194 and HB 159, as it was thought that the voting rights of our military members should not be subject to partisan politics.”
The Senate today passed SB 295 in an attempt to repeal HB 194 before it reaches the ballot this November. A provision in SB 295 would also end early voting the weekend before the election. Supporters of SB 295 incorrectly claim that HB 224, a bill sponsored by Rep. Stinziano, would also end early voting the weekend before the election.
“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.
HB 224 was signed into law in July of last year, but the Senate included technical amendments before its passage to bring HB 224 in line with HB 194, the newly passed election statutes. The technical changes included in HB 224 have been interpreted by Secretary of State Jon Husted as ending early voting the Friday before Election Day. However, HB 224 was not meant to address any issues of election law besides accessibility for military voters. The provisions of HB 224 were purposely separated from the other contentious elections bills, HB 194 and HB 159, in the belief that the voting rights of our military members should not be subject to partisan politics.
“I am extremely disappointed in the Senate’s misrepresentation of HB 224 and the interjection of partisan politics into legislation that achieved the unanimous support of both chambers,” Rep. Stinziano said. “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. 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.”
“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,” said Rep. Clyde.