Students to protest voting law changes


Voters can cast ballots in-person at the Butler County Board of Elections office, 1802 Princeton Road, in advance of the May 6 partisan primary on the following days:

  • 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., now through Friday, May 2
  • 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday, May 3

On Election Day, May 6, polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Source: Ohio Secretary of State

A new group of student activists at Miami University plans to protest recent changes in Ohio’s voting laws.

Organize Oxford plans to stage a demonstration with a “closed” mock voting booth with dozens of people waiting in line.

“It really definitely affects college students because when they want to vote, they have to vote early,” said Matt Metzler, a member of Organize Oxford. “College students typically can’t afford to wait in long lines on Election Day, so if they want to vote, they have to do it early.”

The Ohio legislature passed two bills in February, which will take effect on June 1, that reduce the number of days of early voting from 35 days to 29 days and eliminate the “Golden Week” where people can register to vote and cast a ballot on the same day for the first week of early voting. In January, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted established uniform voting hours that eliminate Sunday voting and evening voting.

Voting by mail is an option, Metzler admits, but he said that is impractical for college students who live on or near campus because they often don’t keep the same address from one school year to the next.

The protest and demonstration is set to begin at 10 a.m. Thursday at The Hub, which is near Upham Hall on campus.

Janis Dutton, director of the Oxford Citizens for Peace and Justice, said voting rights is a civil rights issue. She sees the demonstration as a “clever” action to raise awareness.

“As soon as I found out about it, I wanted to get involved with it,” said Dutton. “Voting rights is one of the most important rights we’re facing today … here in Ohio.”

The Ohio Democratic Party had denounced the state’s changes in voting in the state.

In February, after Husted set uniform voting hours and the House voted for the two Senate-approved bills, Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Brian Hester said there had been a bipartisan agreement to reform Ohio election laws after the 2004 elections.

“Since then, Republicans have worked nonstop to roll back those reforms to prevent people who don’t support Republicans from voting,” he said.

Sen. Bill Coley, R-Liberty Twp., sponsored Substitute House Bill 205, which eliminated governments – except for the Ohio Secretary of State – from sending unsolicited voter registration forms does not limit opportunities to vote.

“This will create uniformity,” Coley said on the House floor in November 2013, when the Senate passed the bill. “We are ensuring every citizen in the state … has equal access to absentee voting.”

Rep. Mike Dovilla, R-Berea, who sponsored Senate Bill 238 in the Ohio House, has said many voters have embraced the elimination of the “Golden Week.”

“The boards (of elections around Ohio) have been clear that allowing individuals to register and cast a ballot on the same day has been challenging in administering fair and accurate elections,” he said.

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