An Ohio House legislative committee sent to the House floor a bill to repeal HB 194. HB 194, which the legislature passed last year, reduced early and absentee voting periods and removed the requirement that poll workers must direct voters to the correct polling place when they show up at the wrong location. Republican leaders unexpectedly delayed vote on the repeal in the full House yesterday.
Last September, a broad coalition of Ohioans used the “people’s veto” process and successfully sought suspension of HB 194 until it could be voted on in a statewide referendum in November. The repeal bill that passed this week in committee received the support of the same legislators who originally backed HB 194. Their change of opinion seems to indicate an effort to avoid an embarrassing political defeat at the polls in the November referendum.
Despite claims by supporters that the bill is a “clean repeal” of HB 194, the current repeal bill would fail to fully restore election rules to the way they were before HB 194’s passage. It does not address the ban on early voting during the last three days before the election because that change was made shortly after passage of HB 194 in separate legislation.