Opponents of Ohio ‘voter suppression bill’ short nearly 10,000 signatures for referendum, get extension
Opponents of Ohio’s so-called “voter suppression bill” have been given 10 additional days to collect 10,000 valid signatures to place the bill, House Bill 194, before voters on the 2012 ballot.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said in a release Monday that, of the 333,063 signatures turned in by petitioners for the referendum on HB 194, only 221,572 of them were valid.
That’s 9,578 less than the required number, 231,150, or six percent of the total number of votes cast for governor in 2010.
Democrats say they have collected more than enough signatures since the due date, September 29, to make up the difference.
“In keeping with our constitutional rights to continue circulating petitions while the September 29 submission was being validated, we have been inspired by the tens of thousands of voters from all 88 counties across the state who have continued to sign the petition to prevent HB 194 from ever becoming law in Ohio,” said former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner in a release. Brunner, who spearheaded the 2006 reforms as a response to chaotic presidential elections in 2000 and 2004, is now with Fair Elections Ohio, the organization that ran the signature-gathering drive against HB 194.
“Thanks to these efforts, Fair Elections Ohio currently has more than enough signatures on hand to overcome this small deficit,” said the release, adding that the total number of signatures gathered since September will be released next week.
HB 194 is one of three bills championed by the state’s Republican legislative majority in the 2011 session that has received enough criticism to warrant a voter referendum. Referendums are valid in Ohio thanks to a 1912 amendment in the state’s constitution that provides for a citizen’s veto of unpopular laws. Senate Bill 5, which would have stripped public-employee unions of many collective bargaining rights, as well as the right to binding third-party dispute arbitration, was nixed at the polls on Election Day last Tuesday, while HB 319, which re-draws the state’s congressional districts to favor Republicans 12-4, could go on the ballot next November alongside the voter suppression bill if lawmakers can’t reach a compromise soon.