The Republican-controlled Ohio Senate has voted to repeal an election law overhaul passed last year, angering Democrats who wanted to see it placed as a referendum on the November ballot.
According to the Columbus Dispatch
, the repeal effort now moves to the state House, where Republican leaders also support repeal over a public vote that some 300,000 Ohioans have demanded in a petition to Secretary of State John Husted.
Democrats and progressive groups backing a referendum said the state’s voters should be able to decide what happens to the new election law, which makes changes to several voting regulations, including mail-in and absentee balloting procedures. It also eliminates some early voting opportunities.
Republicans leaders said they do not understand the uproar over the repeal since it gives opponents of the election overhaul what they want.
“I continue to be baffled when we are doing exactly what the people who are putting the referendum on the ballot asked us to do,” Republican Senate President Tom Niehaus commented.
It is true that overhaul opponents complain that the changes in the law make it more difficult for Ohioans to cast their votes. But Democratic lawmakers said Republicans are trying to substitute their judgment for that of the voters.
“You can’t take away the rights of the people,” said state Sen. Charleta B. Tavares. “The people initiated the referendum, and the people have to be the ones who take it off the ballot.”
Secretary of State Husted, a Republican, has joined his party colleagues in favoring repeal over a referendum because he says it will cost taxpayers $1 million to put the initiative on the ballot and could cause voter confusion.
Other Republicans said Democrats want the measure left on the ballot because it may help drive voter turnout, which could help President Barack Obama’s re-election effort in Ohio.
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