Voting Rights

HB 194: Repeal, Replace, or Both?


Updated 05.08.12: Ohio lawmakers repealed HB 194 on May 8, 2012.

In March 2012, Secretary of State Jon Husted began to advocate the repeal of the controversial HB 194, arguing that it should be scrapped and reexamined after the November 2012 election with legislation that is more bipartisan. Theoretically, repealing HB 194 would render a voter referendum unnecessary, though repealing a law that is under voter referendum is constitutionally unprecedented.

Ohio Republicans have latched onto the repeal plan. Despite Husted’s advice to wait until after the election before exploring any new legislation, some legislators have suggested they might try to replace HB 194 with a new voter suppression bill before the November 2012 election. The ACLU of Ohio strongly opposes any additional changes to voting laws before the presidential election, except to repeal all voter suppression laws that were passed in 2011.

The Ohio General Assembly is currently negotiating the terms of a possible HB 194 repeal. However, some legislators do not want to restore early in-person voting in the three days leading up to the election. Early voting was wildly popular among many Ohioans in 2008, when African-American churches used it to mount “Souls to the Polls” campaigns bringing congregations to boards of elections to vote.