Ohio's Republican Sec. of State Jon Husted has called on fellow Republicans in the legislature to repeal their controversial Election Reform bill, rather than see it face a voter referendum currently slated for this November's ballot.
The law, if it is not rejected by voters, will severely shorten the time for Early Voting and will ban it all together on the Sunday before Election Day in the Buckeye State, in a way that is geared towards suppressing Democratic votes. The bill also includes other major barriers to voting such as a prohibition on county Boards of Election mailing absentee ballot request forms to voters and a ban on poll workers instructing voters where their correct precinct is located. Opponents of the law have noted that some 200,000 voters in Columbus alone --- or 4 in 10 votes cast there in 2008 --- would have had to cast their vote in a different manner in 2012 has the law been allowed to take effect this year as planned.
Husted, the state's chief election official, elected in 2010, had worked with GOP legislators in crafting the bill which was passed and signed by Republican Gov. John Kasich last year, before being met with a wildly successful petition campaign in support of a "voter veto" of the bill. That campaign, led by progressive groups such as Fair Elections Ohio, garnered more than 300,000 signatures, or more than 75,000 above the total required to put the bill on hold and place it on the ballot for a popular vote. The result is that, last December, the bill was officially suspended for 2012, when Republicans had hoped it might help suppress Democratic-leaning voters in the swing-state's Presidential election. Instead, the law is now set to be on the November 2012 ballot for voter approval or rejection.
The Sec. of State called on fellow Republicans to overturn the bill in the legislature, scrap it, and revisit the issue after the 2012 election, rather than allowing it to remain on the ballot in November. Those remarks have raised the hackles of some powerful GOP lawmakers in Ohio.
Husted is developing a record for standing against some of the most radical elements of his own party's agenda in some cases, as seen, for example, in his outspoken condemnation of an attempt to institute polling place Photo ID restrictions on voters in the same bill last year, as well as a bi-partisan effort in 2007, with the previous Democratic Sec. of State, to do away with 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems in the Buckeye State...