I’m really pleased about this because it finally feels as if rank and file Democratic and liberal voters care as much about ensuring that every lawful voter has access to a first class ballot as rank and file Republicans and conservative voters care about setting up roadblocks to a first class ballot.
The enthusiasm gap on this is narrowing:
A referendum on House Bill 194, a sweeping reform of election laws, will appear on the November 2012 ballot, Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office announced Friday.
Opponents of the bill, largely Democrats and voting rights activists, collected 307,358 valid signatures, according to the secretary of state’s office. Petitioners needed 231,150 signatures to put the law on the ballot.
The successful petition drive comes on the heels of Democrats’ victory in overturning Senate Bill 5, a controversial collective bargaining law. That law, supported by Republican Gov. John Kasich and GOP legislative leaders, was overwhelmingly rejected in the November election.
Members and supporters of the Fair Elections Ohio coalition cheered the news Friday and predicted victory next November. By hanging a referendum on HB 194, Fair Elections Ohio preserved the existing elections law through at least next year’s presidential contest. That means a 35-day window for early voting and other practices seen as advantageous to Democrats in 2008 will remain in effect.
President Barack Obama carried Ohio by four points that year. His re-election campaign participated in the HB 194 petition drive. “Today’s news is also further proof that we have a solid and robust grassroots organization in the state, and we plan to carry this momentum into 2012 and look forward to getting the vote out early next year,” Greg Schultz, state director for Obama for America, said in an emailed news release sent by the Ohio Democratic Party.
Husted, a Republican, last month ruled that the petitioners came up about 10,000 signatures short of the requirement. Ohio law, however, provides an extra 10 days to collect supplemental signatures in such a case.
I really believe the petition drive took this issue front and center, and forced us to talk with one another about the nuts and bolts of voting process, a process that is, outside the fiction that is created in the studios of Fox News and the pages of the Wall Street Journal, a dull and ordinary set of specific rules. Take away the New Black Panther Party nonsense and other politically useful allegations and voting process, the real one, the one that exists, is boring. Boring but important.
Mickey Mouse doesn’t really vote, and dead people are removed (or not removed, yet) from the voter rolls when the state or county receives official notice of their death and gets around to removing them. Since people move from state to state and county to county, voters who register in one state or county sometimes die in another, hence the delay, but that’s a less interesting story than “dead people are voting!” so the first impression is the one that sticks.
Voting process wouldn’t merit much national coverage at all from the political press if it were presented honestly, because the news personalities would have to sort through the weeds of state law and explain it all. They’d end up reciting state-specific nitpicky regulations rather than excitedly narrating explosive video clips, which is why it’s a difficult issue to take to actual voters, if one intends to present it honestly.