Ohio Voter Rights Coalition Blog; The Ohio Voter Rights Coalition: Block the Vote: A Record of Restrictive Legislation since 2011

Block the Vote: A Record of Restrictive Legislation since 2011

Ohio loves early voting

Update at 11/20 4 PM EST - SB 238 just passed the Senate.


The Ohio legislature continues to introduce a series of harmful bills that block voter access and participation.  In a disturbing pattern, lawmakers have rushed to vote on the most controversial bills ignoring election research data and without thoughtful deliberation or input from the public or voter advocates.  


Below is a summary of the numerous attempts to block the vote since 2011.


Restrictive Legislation Passed and Signed by Governor Kasich

SB 47 – Made it more difficult for voters to repeal unpopular laws and to introduce their own citizen initiated laws.  Reduced the amount of time for petitioners to collect signatures needed to pass a referendum or initiative.  Signed by Governor on 3/21/13.

SB 193 – Limited the ability of minor parties and candidates to gain access to the ballot and retain party recognition.  Signed by Governor on 11/6/13.

Attempted Legislation/Provisions Ultimately Removed

HB 194 - Cut early voting from 35 days to 21 days by mail and 17 days in person.  Eliminated the most popular days of early voting, the last 3 days before Election Day.  Eliminated the requirement that poll workers direct voters to the correct precinct.  Legislature ultimately voted to repeal its own law after more than 300,000 citizens signed a petition to repeal HB 194 at the ballot box.  Signed by Governor on 7/1/11 and repealed on 5/15/12.

HB 59 - Attempted to restrict the ability of students to vote from campus by revoking public universities’ funding for out-of-state students if schools provided students with voter ID.  Provision removed from state budget and signed by Governor on 6/30/13.

SB 109 - Attempted to throw out of votes for a technical mistake known as “double bubble voting,” in which a voter circles the bubble for a candidate and also writes in the same candidate’s name.  Votes would have been thrown out for regular Election Day voters, but not for absentee or provisional voters.  Provision removed from bill and referred by House of Representatives 10/18/13.

Pending Restrictive Legislation 

SB 205 – Will throw out absentee ballots if voters make minor errors such as transposing a number in a zip code or address or providing the current date instead of their birth date. Prohibits Boards of Elections from sending out unsolicited absentee applications to voters and gives the legislature the exclusive right to authorize statewide mailings from year to year, depending on the whim of the legislature.  Poll workers will be prevented from completing any portion of the absentee envelope unless the voter is disabled. Passed by Senate on 11/6 and is currently being heard by the House.

SB 216 – Will reduce the time period for voters to provide required information to the board of election from 10 days to 3 days after the election. Will also prevent trained poll workers from completing any portion of confusing provisional ballot forms on behalf of the voter.  Both measures will increase rejections of provisional ballots. Currently being heard by the Senate.

SB 238 – Will reduce the time period for early voting from 35 days to 29 days and eliminate the ability for voters to conveniently register to vote and early vote at the same time.  Bill passed by Senate on 11/20.
HB 194 is back in Pieces
Do some of these bills seem familiar to you?  It may be because many of the same provisions were included in HB 194, a bill passed in 2011 that was repealed in 2012

How do we know that Ohioans love early voting?  Here is a fact sheet created by Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates.