PLEASANT RIDGE — In rally after rally, Democrats and their supporters are fighting to repeal two laws enacted by the Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly earlier this year.
On Monday, it was Vice President Joe Biden speaking at the AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic, addressing Senate Bill 5 and House Bill 194. On Thursday night, former Cincinnati Mayor and talk-show host Jerry Springer spoke out.
“There is something filthy about the notion that in the United States of America that we can have politicians that come up with a strategy to make sure or make it more difficult for certain people to vote,” said Springer at the Hamilton County Democratic Party headquarters at a rally to repeal HB 194. “That is such disrespect ... the one thing about being an American is that the vote is sacred.”
The bill shortens the timeframe of mail-in voting from five to three weeks, in-person early voting from five to two weeks, and eliminates early voting during evening hours Saturday afternoon and the Sunday and Monday before elections, to name a few changes.
The bill also requires minimum precinct sizes only in municipalities, with Democrats saying that provision causes longer lines in urban areas.
The bill “establishes a minimum precinct size of 500 electors for precincts located in a municipal corporation,” according to a bill analysis by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission.
But state Republicans say it’s an important cost-saving measure and levels the playing field across Ohio’s 88 counties.
“Opposition for the bill has nothing to do with voting,” said Ohio GOP spokesman Chris Maloney. “It has everything to do with placating the fear Democrats face when it comes to the (2012) presidential election.”
In the 2008 presidential election, more than 15,000 people came to the office to cast an early vote leading up to the election, according to then Butler County Board of Elections Director Betty McGary.
A total of 174,058 votes were cast in the presidential election, with Republican candidate John McCain earning 60 percent of the vote.
“It is a sinister disgusting plan with no purpose other than to make sure that there will be fewer number of black people, a fewer number of Hispanic people voting, a fewer number of working-class people voting and a fewer number of young people voting — that’s the purpose of the legislation.”
By contrast, in Hamilton County President Barack Obama received 57 percent of all the early votes cast to McCain’s 41 percent, which helped secure Ohio for Obama. Of the 425,086 total votes cast, Obama took just less than 53 percent of the vote.
The bill also stops the practice in larger counties of mailing an absentee ballot application to registered voters.
“The country is facing a recession and Ohio is not immune to that — just how households have to adjust, government needs to, too,” Maloney said. “Rural and suburban counties are not afforded the same opportunities as their larger counterparts.”
Steadfast party followers are scrambling to collect 232,000 to put a repeal of the bill on the November 2012 ballot. The bill is scheduled to take effect Sept. 30.
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