A leading Ohio Republican called it "a significant move in the right direction to unify our electoral process in the state of Ohio."
His Democratic counterpart called it "voter suppression."
You most likely know it as the election reform bill — House Bill 194 — and it passed on party lines in the Ohio House Wednesday.
Ohio Rep. Robert Mecklenborg, a Republican from Cincinnati, was talking about the elections reform bill when he gave the first quote to the Columbus Dispatch. State Rep. Kathleen Clyde, a Kent resident and representative for the 68th District, gave the critical response.
The bill has a number of results, including shortening the early voting period. The Dispatch reported that the Ohio Senate is working on its own version of an election bill and could vote on it today.
In the attached video, Clyde talked about the issue with members of the Kent business community at a recent breakfast. Below is a statement issued by Clyde following Wednesday's vote:
The Ohio House of Representatives this afternoon approved legislation that will make it harder for Ohioans to vote. State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) voted against House Bill 194.
“Election reform should be a bi-partisan process, with careful deliberation and input from both sides of the aisle as to how the elections process can improve,” Rep. Clyde said in the House of Representatives today. “Our elections should be about the issues, and the strongest candidates coming out on top, with as many people participating in their government as possible. This bill seeks to accomplish just the opposite.”
The legislation severely limits the number of days that a person can vote early in person from 35 days to six days. Majority Republicans in the House rejected an amendment proposed by Clyde that would have begun in-person absentee voting 21 days prior to Election Day and include the weekend and Monday before Election Day. Clyde also proposed maintaining local control for boards of election by allowing them to maintain their current hours.
“While the number of people taking advantage of early voting has increased rapidly in the last two election cycles, this bill seeks to severely limit those opportunities,” Clyde said. “This bill will make it more difficult for voters to receive and return a ballot in time.”
Clyde added that other sections of the bill will mean that fewer votes will be counted. These changes include throwing out votes because of the lack of non-essential voter data on the provisional and absentee ballot envelopes. The bill also needlessly prohibits poll workers from assisting voters to get them to the right voting location or to make sure that voter paperwork is filled out properly.
House Bill 194 now goes to the Ohio Senate for consideration.