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With enough signatures, absentee-vote bill could face referendum

On Friday, Ohio House Bill 194 is slated to go into effect and would shorten the absentee-voting period as early as this November’s elections. However, if Fair Elections Ohio’s referendum is validated today, the bill would be shelved and eventually decided upon in 2012.

“(The bill) shortens absentee voting by two weeks … which affects college voters,” said Jacob Chaffin, an intern with the anti-Issue 2 group We Are Ohio. “Before the bill, poll workers had to tell you if you were in the wrong district to vote in. After it, they don’t have to. It doesn’t really help anyone.”

With young voters’ rights at risk of being restricted, state Democrats are attempting to stop the bill before tomorrow.

“We want to freeze it until 2012,” said Bill Bias, chair of the Athens County Democratic Party. “This is to be achieved by holding a referendum that would be on the November 2012 ballot. At that time, there would be a vote on whether or not to eliminate the bill.

The referendum would need to contain 231,154 valid signatures in order to freeze the bill, according to Fair Elections Ohio’s website.

This is a mark that Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said would be exceeded, predicting more than 300,000 in a Fair Elections Ohio news release.

“Our volunteers across Ohio have expressed interest in getting involved in the repeal of House Bill 194,” said Greg Shultz, director of Organizing for America. “We are providing our volunteers information on what the law means for their voting rights, how the repeal process works, and how they can get involved in the effort to stop this law from taking effect.”

The bill is already passed but it is not in effect yet, said Debbie Quivey, director of the Athens County Board of Elections.

“If it does not get filed, it will go into effect,” she said.

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