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Published: Friday, 7/15/2011

Toledo rally aims to spread opposition to election bills


Opponents to Republican-backed election bills in Columbus held a rally and news conference in front of Government Center in downtown Toledo to launch a new repeal referendum effort.

WilliAnn Moore, coordinator of the northwest Ohio district of the NAACP, labeled House Bill 194 "voter-suppression legislation" and called for its repeal because it reduces the amount of time people can vote by absentee ballot or early voting.

"The bill that was signed into law by Gov. John Kasich will make it harder for individuals to vote thus taking away their voice. This is another example of Gov. John Kasich's continuous assault on Ohio's middle class," she said.

She blasted the part of the law that eliminates Sunday early voting, saying that in the black community it was becoming a regular practice for people to pile into vans after church to cast their ballots.

The group invited people to sign a petition to repeal the new election law, but did not yet have a copy of the petition on hand. The group of about 20 people also criticized a proposal to require voters to have a government-issued photo identification to be able to vote, which would be more stringent than the current requirement that allows people to vote by showing a utility bill or a government paycheck. That proposal was not passed, but supporters say they might resurrect it in the fall.

John McClelland, a spokesman for the Senate Republican caucus in Columbus, said the aim of the reforms is to ensure a fair and transparent election.

"Every voter who has the legal right to vote will have plenty of opportunity to cast their ballots before Election Day, or on Election Day," Mr. McClelland said.

He said Sunday voting was eliminated to create uniform voting dates and times in all 88 counties.

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