Half A Million Ohioans Signed Petition to Protect Voting Rights
COLUMBUS - Fair Elections Ohio officially delivered a supplemental referendum petition to the Secretary of State on Tuesday with more than 166,148 additional signatures that all but assures a statewide referendum vote at the 2012 general election on HB 194, called the "Election Reform" bill, legislation that actually makes it harder for Ohioans to vote and to have their votes counted.
The initial petition needed an additional 9,578 signatures after verification by the state's boards of elections of the more than 333,000 signatures filed by Fair Elections Ohio on September 29, 2011. State constitutional provisions allow an extra ten days to circulate for additional signatures to qualify referendum petitions for the ballot. A total of 231,147 valid signatures are needed statewide, with at least 3% of the number of voters who voted in the 2010 gubernatorial election from at least 44 counties. Backers of the referendum already qualified a sufficient number of valid signatures in 52 of the state's 88 counties, surpassing the 44-county requirement.
Campaign Director Greg Moore said, "Today is another important step in the campaign to protect Ohioans' most basic rights to vote and have a voice in their government. Today's signature delivery shows the strength of the movement and the importance of free and fair elections to the citizens of Ohio. Fair Elections Ohio's successes are even more impressive taking into account the actions of the Attorney General and Secretary of State to slow down our efforts early on in the petition process. In only six short weeks and during the height of the SB5 fight, Fair Elections Ohio and our allies collected nearly half a million petition signatures from all 88 counties across Ohio."
Former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a co-chair of Fair Elections Ohio, said, "Once again, we thank Ohioans for lending their signatures to qualify this measure for the ballot. Referendum is an important check on extremist legislative measures that can shut people out of their government and wrest from them their individual power. Voting is where empowerment begins. Measures like HB 194, which curtails voting rights, go against the most basic right to participate in a democracy that works. The voters of Ohio, as far back as 1912, had the foresight to reserve to themselves the power of amending our state constitution and of having final judgment on legislation. We are glad they said about HB 194, 'Give us a chance to decide.' As the campaign unfolds, we intend to show Ohioans that a "no" vote on this legislation keeps the voting process fair in Ohio."
The Secretary of State must submit the additional signatures to the state's boards of elections for validation, and upon achieving at least the minimum number of required signatures combining the initial and supplemental petitions, certify the measure for the 2012 general election ballot. The Ohio Ballot Board, chaired by Secretary of State Jon Husted, will determine the wording of the measure for the ballot, once certified.