COLUMBUS (AP) — A contentious new election law was on track to being repealed in the presidential battleground state of Ohio after a bill to rescind the law cleared the Legislature on Tuesday, amid Democratic accusations that Republicans were thwarting the chance for voters to weigh in on the issue this fall.
GOP Gov. John Kasich is expected to sign the repeal bill.
The overhaul law has been on hold since September. That’s when the Fair Elections Ohio campaign had gathered more than 300,000 signatures from Ohioans to get a referendum on Nov. 6 ballots to ask voters whether they wanted to repeal it.
“Why not let the voters vote?” state Rep. Matt Lundy, an Elyria Democrat, asked his Republican colleagues. “This is a very bad idea.”
House Speaker William Batchelder and others have said there is no precedent for a legislative repeal of a bill that also is the subject of a referendum, so it’s unclear how a court might rule if a legal challenge is filed.
The state’s top elections official said with the law’s repeal, there’s no longer a question to be placed before voters.
“Today’s action by the legislature means that Ohio’s election law is no longer in limbo and the potential for unnecessary voter confusion has been eliminated,” Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, said in a written statement.
The Republican-controlled House passed the measure on a 54-42 vote Tuesday, sending it to Kasich. Three House Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the bill. The GOP-dominated Senate approved the legislation on a party-line vote in March.
Among other changes, the overhaul law trims the swing state’s in-person early voting window from 35 days before Election Day to 17 days, and the period for absentee voting by mail from 35 days to 21.
By ANN SANNER