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Politics


Internet cafe backers make a mad dash for signatures, but have a backup
Thursday is the deadline if the group hopes to stall the implementation of a new law that effectively put them out of business
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE


Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
 
Most of the hundreds of Ohio internet cafes are expected to go out of business this week if the petition-effort fails.
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The group that wants to at least stall Ohio’s law effectively banning internet cafes was feverishly gathering signatures this weekend. It has only until Thursday to turn in its petitions to force the issue onto the November 2014 ballot.  But WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports the group likely won’t be done even if it does not get all the names it needs.

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The Committee to Protect Ohio Jobs needs 231,000 valid voter signatures in order to stall the law that limits their prizes and to let voters take up the issue. It came in 71,000 short last week, and is working under a 10-day deadline to come up with the rest.

Mark Weaver is a spokesman for the group.

“It’s hard to get people to sign signatures, and almost every statewide initiative falls short during the first 90-day period. That’s why the law allows for a 10-day makeup period where you can gather more signatures.”

But Weaver acknowledges his group is facing a challenge others have not. In the past, groups could keep gathering more signatures during all the days while the original signatures were being counted – plus the extra 10 days after the count was in State law changed that this year.

If the internet café backers are still fall short when the petitions are turned in Thursday, Weaver says the group will try another tack.

“We will of course examine why so many of our signatures were declined. We’re not doing that so much now because we’re busy gathering new ones. But we’re going to look very closely to see why some of the signatures were declined.”

Weaver and his group say polls show 80 percent of Ohioans oppose banning the sweepstakes cafes. Opponents say they’re illegal gambling. 

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