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America Votes - Ohio

So Goes Ohio...

With such a tight Presidential election this year, all eyes have been on Ohio. Not only was it a critical swing state for President Obama’s re-election campaign, but there was also a hotly contested Senate race between Senator Sherrod Brown and Republican Josh Mandel. On the national level, progressives came out on top in two of these three targeted races.

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The Republican Party wants to suppress your vote

Pennsylvania’s new voter-ID law seems to be creating more than a few headaches lately.

When a person has to stand in numerous lines, fill out multiple forms, and spend over four hours of their day to receive an ID that is only good for the sole-purpose of voting, there is a problem within our democracy.

Voter-ID laws are a trend occurring all over the nation in states controlled by Republican legislatures; including swing-states such as Ohio, New Hampshire, Florida, and Wisconsin. They say that the new law will help protect against voter fraud. However, when allegations of voter fraud have been investigated, the numbers just do not seem to add up. In a major attempt by the Bush Administration to crack down on voter fraud between the years of 2002 to 2007, only 86 people were convicted of voter fraud out of the 300 million votes cast during that time. In the meantime, while Republicans beat their war drums against “big government spending,” the states that have implemented such laws will be spending a combined total of as much as $828 million over the next four years to have these laws implemented. This argument just lacks pure logical sense.

The reality is that state Republican legislatures are enacting a new form of “poll tax” on to groups who generally do not need or have a difficult time obtaining a new photo-ID. These groups (young voters, minorities, the poor, and the elderly) coincidentally enough, were what helped push Obama to victory in 2008. How odd that now these are the voices that Republicans seem to be attempting to suppress for the upcoming 2012 Election.

The Voting Rights Act prohibits states from imposing any “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure ... to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color." This put an end to that era’s Jim Crowe Laws that dominated the polls within the Southern states and reinforced the ratification of the 15th Amendment.

These new laws are nothing more than a replacement to the laws that civil rights activists worked so hard to overthrow. They are taking away people’s rights to vote and suppressing the voices of the people. These states should be taken to court where, hopefully, these laws will be found unconstitutional.

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Republicans Looking to Repeal Their Own Anti-Democratic Voting Bill

After passing the bill only weeks ago, Republicans are now looking to repeal a bill that would cut back on the number of days available for early voting and eliminate the so-called "golden week" prior to an election during which someone can register and vote on the same day.

From the NBC4 story:

"Republican Sen. Bill Seitz ofCincinnatisaid the GOP was taking action Democrats had requested in earlier statements and he urged them to cooperate in drafting a replacement bill.

"If we're going to get something done we've got to get it done by the end of May," Seitz said. "If you all don't want to do it, then we're back to the drawing board."

Seitz accused Democrats of changing course because President Barack Obama's re-election campaign determined joining the fall repeal effort on November's ballot would be a political advantage.

But Sen. Nina Turner ofClevelandsaid it's telling that Republicans "suddenly see the light" and want to repeal the bill before voters get their chance. She said Republicans are blatantly trying to suppress voter turnout in November.

"You can dress it up and you can criticize Democrats but we are not the ones that tried to ram this down the throats of the voters of this state," Turner said. "We stand up for the right to vote and this bill is wrong."


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Ohio Supreme Court Denies Democrats Full 90-Day Window to Collect Referendum Signatures

The Ohio Supreme Court unanimously turned down a request from Democrats for more time to collect signatures to force a 2012 referendum on Republican-drawn congressional districts. The Court affirmed that the 90-day signature-gathering window began September 26, when the redistricting law took effect, rather than October 14, when the justices ruled that the new map was subject to a possible statewide vote. The Republican-dominated court gave no explanation for denying Democrats' request.

Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted, both Republicans, had refused to let Democrats begin gathering signatures in early October, arguing that the redistricting law contained an appropriation exempting it from a referendum until the high court ruled otherwise.
State Democrats must collect 231,234 signatures for a November 2012 referendum. DeWine and Husted's actions have given them 18 fewer days to do so.

In a similar 2009 case, justices gave extra signature-collecting time to opponents of then-Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland's plan authorizing electronic slot machines at horse tracks, saying a full 90-day period would allow a "meaningful opportunity" to circulate petitions.

Despite the setback, state Rep. Kathleen Clyde, a member of the Ohioans for Fair Districts ballot committee, says she has no doubt that they will be able to gather the necessary signatures.

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Voting to Repeal SB5 Begins in Ohio

Voting in Ohio began on October 4th, but this was the first weekend that voters were able to cast their vote in Issue 2; voting down Issue 2 would mean the repeal of SB5, a bill that severely limits collective bargaining rights for public employees in Ohio.

From the Columbus Dispatch story:

"With more than two weeks to Election Day, 65,046 Franklin County voters have requested absentee
ballots, and 2,057 have voted early in person, according to the board.

Those numbers already surpass early voting in the last two off-year elections. In 2009, more
than 47,000 people voted early, either in person or by absentee ballot, and nearly 29,000 did in

In last year’s gubernatorial election, nearly 170,000 voted early.

“This is more like a gubernatorial election,” said William A. Anthony Jr. director of the Board
of Elections

“It’s clearly the issues. They’ve created a lot of excitement.”

Anthony said many Downtown workers have come to vote during their lunch hours. On Friday, 192
voted, slightly more than the same day in last year’s gubernatorial election and more than three
times as many as in the last off-year election in 2009.

“I tell people if they want to avoid lines, vote early,” Anthony said."

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SB5 Heats Up In Ohio

Today, We Are Ohio announced the campaign will begin airing its first television advertisement today in major media markets and cable all across Ohio. The announcement was made in Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo, Youngstown, Dayton and Marietta by local first responders who will vote NO on Issue 2 to reject Senate Bill 5, the unfair and unsafe bill that will hurt their local communities.Watch the add below:

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Ohio Governor Kasich Says "No" to Unemployment Relief

Ohio Governor John Kasich today turned down millions in available federal funds to help the unemployed.

Governor Kasich instead said, though a spokesman, that doing so "makes no sense..."

Read the article from ThinkProgress here.

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Success in the process to repeal Ohio's SB 5

Yesterday, opponents of Ohio Governor John Kasich’s anti-union bill, SB 5, that was signed into law this past march, achieved another victory in their attempts to repeal the law on the November ballot. This victory came by way of the state Ballot Board voting for a clear “yes” to support the law, and “no” to vote against it verbiage for the ballot this November.

Supporters of the law were trying to make the repeal efforts more confusing by submitting wording that would mean a “yes” vote translated into voting for the repeal of the law. It has been proven that voters who are skeptical or confused by an issue tend to vote no, therefore supporting the opponents of the law. With 13.7% of the population of Ohio as union members, higher than the U.S. average rate of 11.9%, this law is clearly an important issue to the people, and this new ballot wording will help their efforts to repeal it come November.

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Voter ID law dies out in Ohio

Voting rights advocates received a victory last week in Ohio when “state House Speaker William Batchelder (R) indicated that state Senate Republicans would not move on a proposed voter ID law. The bill, which passed the House earlier this year, is opposed by Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted and the GOP-controlled state Senate.”

Many aren’t convinced that this is the end of voter ID forgood in Ohio, but it is progress considering all of the voter ID initiatives that have been in process this year across the country. There is also still the issue of Governor Kasich’s election reform law which disenfranchises over 200,000 voters in Ohio who utilized early voting methods in previous elections. For more information regarding voter ID issues in Ohio, the Cleveland Plain Dealer has a good article, read more here.

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