Secretary of State Jon Husted Friday certified that a Democratic-led petition effort had gathered enough valid signatures to subject House Bill 194 to a voter referendum. The law, passed solely with Republican votes, will remain on hold through the 2012 election season and would never go into effect if the law is rejected at the polls.
Among its numerous provisions, the bill would shorten the pre-election windows for absentee and early voting, restrict the days and hours that county boards of election could be open for in-person early voting, and attempt to put all counties on the same page when it came to counting last-resort provisional ballots.
The law also prohibits county election boards from mass mailing applications for absentee ballots to all registered voters.
Supporters of the law argued that it would ensure that voters in one county wouldn’t receive preferential treatment over voters in another and also save counties money. Opponents contended that the law throws up too many obstacles to voting and increases the chances that a vote won’t be counted.
Mr. Husted certified that the Fair Elections Ohio committee filed 307,358 valid signatures of registered voters. It needed 231,150, the equivalent of 6 percent of the total vote from last year’s gubernatorial candidate. It also exceeded the 6 percent target in 64 of Ohio’s 88 counties. It needed 44.
The petition effort was led by Mr. Husted’s Democratic predecessor, Jennifer Brunner, and had the backing of President Obama’s re-election campaign.