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House Passes Fast-Tracked Election Bill On Party Line Vote

Members of the Ohio House come into the chamber a few minutes before session starts on June 4, 2020.
Members of the Ohio House come into the chamber a few minutes before session starts on June 4, 2020.

A fast tracked bill that would make some changes in election law for the November vote passed the Ohio House along party lines Thursday. The bill was a much different proposal than the original plan that voter groups opposed, but it still failed to get any Democratic votes.

The bill from Rep. Cindy Adams (R-Harrison) allows Secretary of State Frank LaRose to send absentee ballot requests to all 8 million registered voters and moves back the absentee ballot requesting deadline from the Saturday before the election to a week before it.

It also prevents a public official from moving the election date.

Rep. Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster) recalled the confusion after polls were closed the night before the March 17 primary and mail in voting was extended to April 28.

“The last thing we need is a repeat of what happened in March election," Wiggam said.

But Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) spoke out against it, noting Democrats wanted online absentee ballot applications, postage paid by the state - two things supported by the Republican Secretary of State as well. She also said the bill should have included the ability for counties to have more than one early voting location.

“We are not doing right by our constituents if we refuse to make it easier for people to vote, and ease does not have to come at the expense of safety," Kelly said.

A previous version of the bill had stopped early in person voting the weekend before the election, but that was removed. The bill doesn’t allow or ban voting on that final weekend, which has happened because of orders from the secretary of state and sometimes court action.

The bill now moves on to the Senate.

Nearly all of the written testimony before the committee hearing the bill was from opponents. Dozens of people and individuals opposed the bill, including the ACLU, the NAACP, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, AARP and the Ohio Council of Churches.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.