Ohio ACLU Howard Tolley, St. John’s UU, Cincinnati
Move to Amend Michael Greenman, First UU Columbus
Voting Rights (2/3/16)
Over the past five years Ohio has removed 2 million names from the voter rolls, including more than 400,000 deceased voters. Article. Rep. Kathleen Clyde, D-Kent, has proposed a bill that would allow voters to be purged from the rolls only if they are confirmed to have moved out of state. Demos, a public policy organization based in NYC, has been working with Ohio organizations and prospective plaintiffs on a possible lawsuit to bar the purging of individual voters who have not moved since they initially registered to vote but nevertheless have been removed from the rolls for failure to vote. Secretary of State Jon Husted argues that Ohio practice satisfies requirements of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), known as the “motor voter law.”
Those who haven’t voted in 8 years and may have been purged can find out by clicking Check My Registration at the Ohio Secretary of State’s website. Voters who have moved can also change their address online but must do so prior to the Tuesday, February 16 deadline to register to vote in the March 15 primary election. All can vote absentee from Februry 17 to March 15 when polls open at 6:30.
Move to Amend
The 2013 Louisville General Assembly “Action of Immediate Witness” made support of a constitutional amendment to eliminate corporate personhood and money as speech “Denominational Policy”. Since then at least 51 UU “communities” have endorsed Move to Amend. See the UUJO web page onEconomic Justice for more information.
Move to Defend not Amend
The MTA’s proposed constitutional amendment expressly references the 1st Amendment. Religious liberals have long defended the First Amendment’s precious guarantees against conservative proposals to overturn Supreme Court decisions. See ‘Fixing’ Citizens United Will Break the Constitution by Laura Murphy, Director ACLU Washington Legislative Office.
The MTA’s proposed Constitutional Amendment would reverse over a century of Supreme Court caselaw granting personhood to for profit corporations while attempting to leave untouched corporate personhood for non-profits such as the UUA, its member Congregations, UUJO, and the ACLU. The NY Times is a for profit corporation that needs first Amendment protection. Former ACLU Executive Director Ira Glasser offers a comprehensive critique of MTA and identifies alternative ways to address the corruption of our political process.
Here is the ACLU’s official position on Citizens United and the efforts to amend the Constitution:
Here is a 2013 post on the ACLU’s blog regarding testimony before Congress on ways that money is dedicated to issue campaigns, in a way that has nothing to do with its source (corporate or individual):
Despite some disagreement over the wisdom of MTA, UUs in Ohio all recognize and oppose other threats to fair elections ranging from gerrymandering to voter suppression.
New Limit on Repealing Legislation by Referendum
News report from online Cleveland Plain Dealer
Legislation signed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich on March 22, 2013 has infuriated Democrats and advocacy groups who say it will make it harder for voters to repeal laws and introduce their own.
Senate Bill 47, sponsored by Sen. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati, sets strict rules on the time organizers have to collect signatures when mounting a petition drive to strike down laws. The bill, which passed swiftly through the legislature, will essentially cut at least two weeks from the existing timetable.
Part of SB 47, which Seitz affectionately calls the “Stop in the Name of Love Provision,” would prohibit organizers from collecting signatures while the secretary of state verifies submitted petitions.
Under current law, organizers have 90 days to collect signatures before submitting the petition to the secretary of state. Organizers now can collect signatures to bolster their petition while the secretary of state reviews the initial petition, which has taken between 16 and 58 days. SB 47 will put a stop to that.
Seitz says his bill would prevent potential malevolence by secretaries of state who could game the system in their favor — quickly verifying a petition they hope will fail, or slow-walking a petition they hope will succeed.
The Republican senator’s efforts riled the liberal side of the aisle and advocacy groups like the League of Women Voters of Ohio, We Are Ohio and the Ohio Fair Elections Network, which fear SB 47 would infringe on the constitutional right to initiative and referendum Ohioans granted themselves more than a century ago.
The senator brushed off the opposition on March 13 during his sponsor testimony before the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee, saying his bill had major bipartisan allies: Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted and his Democratic predecessor Jennifer Brunner.