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Published: Monday, 3/10/2014

DeWine certifies petition for proposed Ohio Voters Bill of Rights amendment to constitution


COLUMBUS — Those seeking to write a voter bill-of-rights into the Ohio Constitution cleared its first hurdle today as Attorney General Mike DeWine signed off on 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 it would be if voters approve. Mr. DeWine had rejected a prior incarnation of the summary, further delaying by several weeks the effort to gather at least 385,000 valid signatures of registered voters by July 2 in order 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 in constitutional stone minimum hours for early voting, electronic voter registration, more options for voter identification at the polls, and less stringent rules for counting last-resort 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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