IMPORTANT UPDATE: The same politicians who brought you Senate Bill 5 once again are playing tricks and ignoring the will of the people.
Our voting rights are under siege.
There is a concerted effort to reduce voter turnout, intimidate, harass, and threaten voters.
The public official leading the charge to put up hurdles to voting this year is Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.
SOS Husted is a protege of former Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell who brought national shame to Ohio in 2004 by overseeing one of the worst elections in state history.
In 2004, voters waited for hours in long lines to vote. Many left without voting to return to work or tend to their families.
By contrast, Ohio had early voting in 2008. More than 200,000 voters took advantage of the opportunity to vote on weekends and in the evenings and with absentee ballots.
About 93,000 people voted on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day.
More people voted in the 2008 elections than in any previous election in Ohio history.
In four short years, Ohio went from a laughingstock to a model for the nation on elections.
In 2012, Husted is trying to take us back to the days of Blackwell.
He, extreme politicians in the legislature and Gov. John Kasich have tried to reduce the opportunities for people to vote.
Husted was embroiled in a scandal that attracted national attention when he moved to close down voting on weekends and evenings in urban counties while voting to expand hours in rural and suburban counties.
We Are Ohio is a non-partisan, grass roots, citizen-driven movement that believes everyone should have the right to vote, plain and simple.
Embarassed, Husted issued a directive to county elections boards to let people vote during normal operating hours.
When a number of counties wanted to go beyond the minimum and open voting up on weekends and evenings, Husted ignored the wishes of local community leaders and said no.
He fired two Montgomery County Elections Board members, who together had nearly 30 years overseeing elections, because they voted to expand early voting to weekends in their home county.
SOS Husted is not alone in his efforts to suppress the vote.
We Are Ohio got involved in fighting for voting rights last year when Gov. John Kasich and the extreme politicians bullied Senate Bill 5 into law against the will of the people.
Kasich and these extreme politicians thought they could stop us from vetoing SB 5 if they lowered voter turnout.
They quickly passed HB 294 that reduced the amount of early voting opportunities on weekends and evenings and limited the period for absentee voting.
But we fought back with a movement called Fair Elections Ohio. We collected
signatures to stop the law from going into effect, and then prepared for voters to veto it in November, 2012.
Nervous politicians passed a bill earlier this summer, Senate Bill 295, that they maintain repealed HB 294.
SOS Husted pulled HB 294 from the ballot, denying voters the chance to veto the law after they collected hundreds of thousands of signatures. When asked, Husted was unable to point to a law or portion of the Ohio Constitution that permitted him to pull the ballot issue.
Lawmakers maintain voters do not need to veto HB 294 because SB 295 repealed the law for them, but it is not a true repeal. Politicians are still narrowing the window of opportunity for Ohioans to vote this November.
In 2008, 93,000 Ohioans voted on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday right before Election Day.
SB 295 does not restore those three early voting days.
Kasich, Husted and extreme lawmakers have put a padlock on the voting booth for those three days this year.
When Husted was sued and a federal judge ordered him to let Ohioans vote on those final three weekend days, Husted tried to ignore the judge’s order.
Only when the federal judge ordered Husted to appear in his court did the Secretary of State back down.
But they are not done trying to suppress the vote.
Outside groups are planning to send thousands of people into Ohio to intimidate, harass and threaten voters on Election Day at polling places
We’re not going to let them get away with it.
You can fight back by doing the one thing they do not want you to do: Vote.
Vote early in person. Vote by absentee ballot. Vote on Election Day.
Tell your friends, family members and neighbors to vote.
And don’t forget to Vote Yes on Issue 2 to put citizens in charge so that our elected officials start working for us instead of themselves and their lobbyist friends.