A new Republican-backed elections law in Ohio has been suspended after a petition of protest bearing more than 300,000 signatures was filed with the secretary of state’s office.
The law, which imposes tough restrictions on early voting, will be placed on the ballot next year to give voters a chance to decide for themselves whether they want changes made in how elections are run.
According to a report Friday in Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer
, Ohio Democrats believe the law amounts to voter suppression. The newspaper said a coalition of Democrats, voting rights, and labor groups organized the petition drive to prevent the law from taking effect in the upcoming Nov. 8 state elections.
Those elections, and possibly the 2012 presidential election as well, will now be run “under the same early voting laws that benefited Democrats in 2008,” the newspaper reported.
Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge told the newspaper that the suspension of the law, known as House bill 194, will help increase the turnout among minorities, the elderly, and disabled.
Under the bill, which was to take effect on the last day of September, absentee ballot applications, late voter registrations, and early voting days would have been limited, and in some case eliminated.
“It could change the outcome of an election,” the Ohio congresswoman said at a news conference on Thursday announcing that 318,460 petition signatures had been gathered.
According to the Plain Dealer, the law will remain suspended during the presidential election next year “as long as 231,147 of the signatures are verified.”
Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, was quoted as saying that the verification process will not be completed until after this fall’s elections.
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