No on Sub. HB 294
Protect Our Freedom to Vote
What’s this campaign all about?
Legislation to reform Ohio’s voting rules has been collecting dust since June 2021. Now that legislative session is coming to a close in December, Republican members of the House Government Oversight Committee are rushing to pass new voting restrictions in the form of Substitute House Bill 294.
We already had our doubts about House Bill 294 as introduced (we described it as a Trojan Horse for voters), but now that we’ve had a chance to take a look at the substitute bill, it’s crystal clear that this piece of legislation will harm Ohio voters and make it more difficult to vote.
First of all, the new version of the bill no longer includes automated voter registration and verification—the most significant positive component of the original HB 294. Without “AVR”, this bill offers few, if any, meaningful improvements for voters.
Here are just a few additional reasons why we oppose this bill. Sub HB 294:
- Prohibits prepaid return postage for absentee ballot requests and absentee ballots;
- Eliminates the last day of early voting, reallocating the lost hours during weekdays, but not during the final weekend;
- Codifies a confusing early voting schedule with variable weekday hours during the final week of early voting;
- Shortens the time for Boards to accept voted ballots– with a postmark prior to the election–from 10 days after Election Day to 7 days after Election Day (and that shorter deadline applies to overseas and military voters as well);
- Limits Boards of Election to 3 drop boxes, only allows them to be set up at the county board office, and only permits their use starting 28 days before an election;
- Eliminates curbside voting provisions that were in the original HB 294;
- Continues the prohibition of grandchildren dropping off absentee ballots and creates new criminal penalties for unauthorized ballot returns;
- Requires citizenship status to be listed on Ohio driver’s licenses
Substitute House Bill 294 is full of harmful attacks on our freedom to vote. This legislation will do nothing to improve access to the ballot in Ohio or solve any of the many existing problems that create barriers to the ballot for Ohio voters. That’s why we are urging you to take action now: contact your lawmakers and urge them to vote NO on Sub HB 294.