The state legislature in Ohio has been busy with what must matter. Unhappy with Governor Dewine and Dr. Amy Acton’s leadership on the Covid 19 pandemic, they tried to suppress their capacity in the future. That went nowhere so the knives came out for what else the legislators could slice and dice to suppress. Funny, how if you can’t contribute positively there is always the option of negation to make you feel like you are being proactive (Householder’s “grow a pair” comments while shooting a TV and all!). Andrew J. Tobias has been following the progress of Ohio HB680 for in a series of articles. Introduced by Rep. Cindy Abrams (GOP southwest Ohio) it projected eliminating early voting the weekend just prior election day, also no mass mailings of absentee ballot application by the Secretary of State, as well as spelled out how, when and in what manner the Governor could reset the November 2020 election. This flies in the face of the original legal settlement enabling early voting. It likewise dissed the plans and intention of Ohio’s Secretary of State (“The proposal runs counter to a plan by Republican Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who has sought to expand early voting for the November election, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic. His plan includes giving people the option to request a ballot online, and providing postage-paid envelopes to voters with ballot applications and actual ballots.”). The bill faced some push back. The final version passed the House 6-4-20. It already is a modification of a similar Senate bill, so no biggie “hammering out” a compromise. The question remains “will Dewine sign it?” What’s in the final version, you ask? Still limits the how, when and in what manner the Governor can “update” any election to accommodate conditions (like Covid 19, obviously, but less obvious would be civil or economic turmoil). Tobias writes: “House Bill 680 also shortens the deadline to request a mail-in ballot by four days — it’s now a week before Election Day — and bars Secretary of State Frank LaRose from providing voters with postage-paid envelopes along with their ballot applications and blank ballots. LaRose, a Republican, had proposed providing the envelopes to encourage mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.” Early voting the weekend prior election day remains as per legal settlement between the state, ACLU and NAACP. Tobias also notes: “The bill was approved by a 60-35 party-line vote. It adopts language previously passed by the Ohio Senate in a separate bill prohibiting any public official from changing the time, place or manner of an election. All the ‘yes’ votes were from Republicans, and the ‘no’ votes were from Democrats.” Analysis can’t fail to appreciate the emphasis on Democracy and voting tackled by the legislature in the midst of a growing pandemic, economic depression, and widespread civil upheaval re: police in America. The latter demonstrations are usually prefaced by platitudes of “election is the best hope for change,” “real power comes through the ballot box,” and “voting is how you make a difference,” etc. Meanwhile, those in power have other ideas as to how, when, where, and in what manner Democracy takes place.


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