'Christian Faith Requires Personal Sacrifice' Says Divinity Student Protesting Law Said to Ensure Republican Control of Scandal-Ridden Ohio
By Brad Friedman on 12/10/2005, 2:29pm PT  

To protest what Free Press investigative reporters describe as a "holiday burial for American Democracy" in the Buckeye State, Ohio divinity student and Columbus resident, Jonathan Meier is continuing his prayer vigil and hunger strike at the Ohio Statehouse despite heavy snow and brutally cold winter temperatures.

House Bill 3 has already passed the House and is about to be approved by the Republican-dominated Senate in the ground-zero snakepit of GOP political corruption otherwise known as Ohio.

Activist Meier, in a just-issued press release says "that his Christian faith calls him to 'constantly pursue social justice and illuminate social ills, and, often, this call requires personal sacrifice."

Free Press' Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman recently described the latest onslaught to democracy in Ohio, which Meier is protesting, this way:

HB3's most publicized provision will require positive identification before casting a vote. But it also opens voter registration activists to partisan prosecution, exempts electronic voting machines from public scrutiny, quintuples the cost of citizen-requested statewide recounts and makes it illegal to challenge a presidential vote count or, indeed, any federal election result in Ohio. When added to the recently passed HB1, which allows campaign financing to be dominated by the wealthy and by corporations, and along with a Rovian wish list of GOP attacks on the ballot box, democracy in Ohio could be all but over.

Says Meier, "Most people don't realize that this legislation, if passed by the senate next week, would make it virtually impossible for homeless folks to vote, would make it virtually impossible for groups to register large numbers of voters, would eliminate oversight of voting machines, and would cancel our right to challenge election results."

He added, "Instead of addressing the long lines at the polls, instead of making it easier for people to register and to vote, Republican lawmakers put forward 424 pages of legislation that will set up roadblocks to our democracy. I, for one, do not trust a vote reform bill that is purely a partisan act."

Fitrakis and Wasserman put the Ohio legislation in context for the rest of the country, where similar bills are being explored by various Republican-controlled legislatures:

In traditional terms, the scandal-ridden Ohio GOP would appear to be more vulnerable than ever. Governor Robert Taft has become the only Ohio governor to be convicted of a crime while in office. With an astonishing 7% approval rating, he has been compared to Homer Simpson by the state's leading Republican newspaper. Republican US Senator Mike DeWine appears highly vulnerable. The GOP has never won the White House without winning the Buckeye State.

But HB3 will solidify the GOP's iron grip on the electronic voting process and all that surrounds it. Unless they break that grip, Democrats who believe they can carry any part of Ohio in 2006 or 2008 are kidding themselves.

When it comes to 2008, can you say "Jeb Bush"?