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Professor Dan Tokaji
Election reform, the Voting Rights Act, the Help America Vote Act, and related topics -- with special attention to the voting rights of people of color, non-English proficient citizens, and people with disabilities

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Equal Vote
Tuesday, June 14
 
Sparks Fly on Ohio Election Bill
The Ohio Senate Rules Committee held a hearing today on a bill that would overhaul the state's election laws. The State House has already passed the bill (Sub H.B. 3). Among the changes in the version approved by the House are to require that provisional ballots be cast in the correct precinct in order to be counted, to eliminate party challengers at the polling place, to permit "no fault" absentee voting, and to eliminate contests in federal elections. My House testimony on the bill is available here.

The most noteworthy development in today's hearing was the acrimony between the Republican and Democratic members of the Rules Committee, to which the bill has been assigned. Senator Jacobson, the vice-chair of the committee, repeatedly interrupted Senator Theresa Fedor on the ground that her questioning was out of compliance with the rules, leading her to walk out of the hearing. Later in the afternoon, Democrat committee members asked Republican members whether a substitute bill was in the works. The Republicans' responses made clear that there had been discussion of an amended bill, but that none of the Democrats had seen any such amendments.

Among the rumored amendments are provisions that would impose a stricter ID requirement and that would disenfranchise felons who have completed their sentences (presently eligible to vote under Ohio law). But Republican committee members weren't providing any specifics about exactly what's in store. The AP has this story, apparently written before today's hearing, on the possibility of a photo ID requirement.

Stay tuned. Another hearing is scheduled for Wednesday at 9:00 am. Expect more fireworks.

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Moritz College of Law The Ohio State University