Ohio Election Law Veto Referendum (2012)

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The Ohio Election Law Veto Referendum did not make the November 6, 2012 ballot in the state of Ohio as a veto referendum.

The measure would have repealed an elections law that was passed in the state of Ohio. The law would have moved future primary election dates from March to May, among other provisions.

Additionally, the legislation would have shortened the period of mail-in absentee voting from 35 days before the election to 21. The number of days residents can vote early would be limited to 14 days before the election. Currently, the number of days residents can vote early is also 35 days.[1]

On December 9, 2011 the Ohio Secretary of State certified that referendum supporters had collected sufficient signatures to qualify the measure for the statewide ballot. As a result of sufficient signatures, the new law will be put on hold until the November election, keeping the 2012 primary in March. The law that the repeal targeted was House Bill 194. However, on May 15, 2012, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed legislation that repealed HB 194, foregoing a public vote on the matter and taking the veto referendum off the 2012 ballot.[2] According to reports, the law has been hold since referendum supporters filed the initial batch of signatures in September 2011.[3]

Former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner was part of the group that was spearheading the initiative effort. That group is called Fair Elections Ohio.


HB 194 provisions

The following were key provisions of House Bill 194, the law that this referendum targeted to overturn:[4]

  • Reduce by mail absentee voting to 3 weeks. Current mail absentee voting window is 5 weeks.
  • Reduce in person absentee voting to 2 weeks.
  • Ban in person absentee voting on Sundays as well as Saturday after 12 noon.
  • Ban in person early voting during the last weekend before an election takes place.



The following is information obtained from the supporting side of the veto referendum:

  • Reportedly, the Barack Obama re-election campaign was supporting the referendum efforts, e-mailing supporters to direct them to petitions. [5]
  • President Obama's re-election campaign also helped activists in the days leading up to the deadline. According to reports on September 27, 2011, Jeremy Bird, Obama's national field director wrote in an e-mail: "At a time when we should be expanding the number of people voting, there are some in Ohio trying to shrink it. It's pure politics."[6]
  • Greg Schultz, Ohio director for the Obama campaign, wrote in an e-mail: "We're mobilizing on the ground all month to get to 231,000 signatures because nothing is more fundamental to our democracy than the right to vote."[5]
  • According to national talk show host Jerry Springer, when commenting on the law, and his support to overturn it, stated: “There is something filthy about the notion that in the United States of America that we can have politicians that come up with a strategy to make sure or make it more difficult for certain people to vote. That is such disrespect ... the one thing about being an American is that the vote is sacred.”[7]
  • Commenting on legislation to repeal parts of the targeted bill by HB 194 supporters, Carrie Davis, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, stated that the legislation would confuse voters who were decide on the veto referendum on the state ballot. Davis stated: "Enough already. In the last 12 months, the Legislature has considered but not passed a bill on voter ID. They passed a comprehensive voting bill, HB 194. Two weeks later, they went back and fixed things that they missed and mistakes they had made...There was then a referendum effort on HB 194 to stop it from going into effect. And now, they are planning to pass a repeal of HB 194...We’ve been told...that they plan to introduce and pass yet another election bill before they adjourn for the summer. All of this in 12 months. It’s too much.”[8]


The following is information obtained from the opposing side of the veto referendum:

  • According to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, commenting on the the veto referendum effort: "One of the problems that we've had is we've had some counties voting by one set of standards and others by different and that undermines the confidence in the system."[9]


It was reported on February 1, 2012 that a proposal was introduced to repeal the new election law, therefore aiming to do the same as the citizen-initiated veto referendum. This, according to reports, was done to avoid a referendum election that could cost the state money.[10]

The bill that was considered in the state legislature was Senate Bill 295. According to reports, the bill was to be voted on by the Senate Oversight and Reform Committee in order to have it considered by the full chamber.

Some critics state that the proposal violates the rights of referendum by citizens and could discourage future referendum efforts. Others state that repealing the election law would violate the voters' right to decide on the law. Norman Robbins, a voting rights advocate, stated: "This is an outright violation of Ohio citizen's rights to ask for a referendum, and would discourage any future campaigns on other issues because the ruling majority could simply repeal the referendum issue before the election."[4][11]

During the week of March 28, 2012, the bill was approved by the Ohio State Senate, therefore only needing approval from the Ohio House of Representatives to repeal the election law.[12]

Then, after the approval of the Ohio House of Representatives, the measure was sent to the Ohio Governor for his signature.[13]

On May 15, 2012, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed the legislation, therefore overturning the law and foregoing placing a referendum on the ballot in November 2012.[14]


See also: Polls, 2012 ballot measures
  • A poll was released by Lake Research Partners showing a slight opposition to the election law that the referendum was trying to repeal. It was concluded that 54% of respondents were opposed to the law, therefore favored repealing it. The margin of error of the poll was +/- 3.7 percentage points.[15]
Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided Number polled
January 22-25, 2012 Lake Research Partners 54% 31% 15% 705

Path to the ballot

Supporters of the repeal needed to gather 231,184 valid signatures from registered voters by September 30, 2011 in order to place the measure on the ballot. The measure was given clearance to circulate petitions for signature collection on August 18, 2011. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine stated that the measure had collected the initial 1,000 required for the measure to move forward.[16][2]

On September 29, 2011, petition drive leaders submitted more than 318,000 signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State's office, a third more than the required signature amount, 231,147. Signatures will now be reviewed for validation, with a deadline to verify signatures likely after the November 2011 elections, according to the secretary's office. Meanwhile, House Bill 194 will be "suspended from taking effect", according to Matt McClellan, a spokesman for the secretary's office.[17]

Signatures fall short

It was found on November 14, 2011 that the effort to place the measure on the ballot had fallen short of the signature requirement by 9,578 signatures. Since they fell short, the effort had 10 days to submit more signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State's office after that date.[18]

On November 22, 2011, supporters filed an additional 166,481 signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State's office. The high number of additional signatures is due to the constant petition circulation by supporters while their original filings were being verified.[19]

Certified for the ballot

On December 9, 2011 the Ohio Secretary of State certified that referendum supporters had collected sufficient signatures to qualify the measure for the November 2012 ballot. A grand total of 307,358 signatures were collected and submitted to the secretary of state's office. However, it was later removed from the ballot due to 2012 legislation that repealed HB 194, which the referendum had planned to do.[20]

See also

Suggest a link

Additional reading


  1. Cincinnati.com, "HB 194 has Democrats on edge", August 28, 2011
  2. 2.0 2.1 Cleveland.com, "Possible repeal of new elections law puts congressional redistricting in time crunch", August 13, 2011
  3. Circleville Herald,"Ohio election law repeal to appear on 2012 ballot," December 9, 2011
  4. 4.0 4.1 Examiner.com, "Committee vote on bill to defuse HB 194 ballot time bomb expected next week", March 18, 2012
  5. 5.0 5.1 Toledo Blade, "Obama campaign fighting Ohio voting law", August 31, 2011
  6. The Associated Press, "Obama campaign wades into Ohio elections law fight", September 27, 2011
  7. Middletown Journal, "Springer speaks at rally against HB 194, SB 5", September 9, 2011
  8. Vindy.com, "Election-law changes opposed", April 13, 2012
  9. WFMJ.com, "Ohio Secretary Of State on House Bill 194", Retrieved September 13, 2011
  10. Newsnet5.com, "Senate bill expected to repeal Ohio's election law", February 1, 2012
  11. Marion Star, "Repeal vote of Ohio election overhaul delayed", March 22, 2012
  12. WKSU.org, "Election law repeal bill passes Ohio Senate", March 28, 2012
  13. Cleveland.com, "Repeal of contentious OH election law heads to gov", May 8, 2012
  14. STL Today, "Ohio gov signs bill to get rid of new election law", May 15, 2012
  15. Scribd.com, "New Ohio Statewide Poll Shows Majorities Set to Repeal HB19", Retrieved February 27, 2012
  16. WNCT.com, "Ohio Election Law Foes OK to Resume Repeal Effort", August 19, 2011
  17. Business-Journal, "H.B. 194 Foes Get Early Win with Petitions", September 30, 2011
  18. The Republic, "Opponents of Ohio's election law fall short of needed signatures in ballot repeal effort", November 14, 2011
  19. Toledo Blade, "Ohio ballot in '12 likely to include election law", November 23, 2011
  20. Reuters,"Ohio Democrats hope 2012 ballot measure will help Obama," December 10, 2011