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Published: Monday, 3/10/2014

Ohio OKs wording for voter-rights amendment


COLUMBUS — Those seeking to write a voter bill of rights into the Ohio Constitution cleared the first hurdle Monday as Attorney General Mike DeWine approved proposed language that would be shown to would-be petition signers.

The Republican attorney general agreed that the summary of the proposed constitutional amendment was a “fair and truthful” representation of what it would be if voters approve it. Mr. DeWine had rejected a prior summary, further delaying by several weeks the effort to gather at least 385,000 valid signatures of registered voters by July 2 to qualify for the Nov. 4 ballot.

The proposed amendment — pushed by a coalition of black clergy, civil rights advocates, and some Democratic lawmakers — would set minimum hours for early voting, electronic voter registration, more options for voter identification at the polls, and less stringent rules for counting provisional ballots.

The bill of rights is a reaction to recent Republican-passed legislation to narrow the early voting and absentee ballot window before an election and impose new restrictions on absentee and provisional ballots.

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