Ohio Voter Bill of Rights Grassroots Movement Pledges to Continue Fighting for Equal Access to Voting
COLUMBUS – Today, the Ohio Voter Bill of Rights movement (OVBR) pledged to move forward with the effort to gather signatures and announced the “50th Anniversary Freedom Summer Initiative,” which will take place across the state over the upcoming months.
The Ohio Voter Bill of Rights has been a grassroots movement of churches, civic groups, civil rights organizations, labor unions and progressive partners committed to protecting voting rights for all Ohioans. With an army of volunteers spread across our state working countless hours after work, during lunch breaks, on weekends, walking neighborhoods, standing at bus stops, and in church lobbies, we are building an apparatus to continue the OVBR people’s movement. In just 90 days, our grassroots volunteer effort collected 100,000 signatures on a shoestring budget, and petitions continue to come in. There was no community in Ohio where we did not find deep concern for our voting rights.
Today, on the eve of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we announce our VOTER BILL OF RIGHTS FREEDOM SUMMER INITIATIVE that will include:
- Officially opening the Ohio Voter Bill of Rights Office to coordinate our statewide efforts and activities;
- Hosting a statewide Ohio Voter Bill of Rights Conference to bring together our coalition partners and grassroots citizens to inspire, inform and engage in a strategic mobilization throughout our state; and
- Calling on our national and statewide partners who believe in voting rights to support this effort.
State Rep. Alicia Reece, D-Cincinnati, gave the following statement in support of the OVBR:
“The Ohio Voter Bill of Rights is a bold step by everyday citizens, many of whom have never been involved in initiating a ballot initiative, but who want voting rights permanently protected in the Ohio Constitution for all Ohioans. Our movement was able to receive certification from the Ohio Attorney General, receive approval from the Ohio Ballot Board as a single issue, and in just 90 days train hundreds of grassroots volunteer circulators who were able to distribute and collect signatures across the state. The momentum is still growing and we will not stop until the Voter Bill of Rights is in the Ohio Constitution. We will continue to educate, circulate, and activate throughout this summer and fall with this new civil rights movement.”
Reverend Dr. Jawanza Karriem Colvin, Pastor, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, in Cleveland, gave the following statement in support of the OVBR:
“The Ohio Voter Bill of Rights ballot initiative has mobilized volunteers throughout the state. To stop now would be a disservice to all those who are continuing to work as we speak. We plan on making this ballot initiative and the issue of voting rights the defining issue of this state until this battle is won once and for all.”
State Rep. Vernon Sykes, D-Akron, and petitioner of the amendment, gave the following statement in support of the OVBR:
“The OVBR will continue collecting signatures as the summer continues. This is the right issue at the right time to advance freedom and democracy in the State of Ohio.”
Rev. Otis Moss, Jr, National Advisor, Civil Rights Leader and petitioner of the amendment, gave the following statement:
“It took decades to get the 1965 Voting Rights Bill and we will not become weary or discouraged if it takes several months to get an Ohio Voters Rights Amendment.”