Democrats against amendment to the GOP early election law

The battle for electoral laws in Ohio escalated Wednesday as Democrats and Republicans came up against each other.

The Democrats at Ohio House in Cincinnati embarked on their nationwide tour to rally voters against a law that would change early voting in Ohio. Republican sponsor of the bill, Rep. Bill Seitz, a Republican from the Green Township, called the Democrats’ roadshow the “Tour of Disinformation and Confusion.”

It’s a nationwide struggle, with Republican laws to revise electoral laws making national headlines in Texas, Georgia, and elsewhere. Now the battle has reached Ohio.

On Wednesday night, nine Democratic members of the Ohio House were sitting in an Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio boardroom in Avondale. It was a town hall that they called “freedom to choose”.

Democratic lawmakers said the 40 people who showed up, mostly neighborhood civil rights and Democratic activists, felt ignored by the Republican majority in the Ohio General Assembly.

They want the public to do their part to oppose Republican-led efforts to change the state’s electoral laws.

“Democracy is at stake tonight,” said MP Tavia Galonski, D-Akron. “This is the most important place I could be today. I’m just proud to be here and I hope you tell us all what we need to do to fight this anti-electoral law.”

State Representative Tavia Galonski speaks to Vote Town Hall Tour in Greater Southwest Ohio during State Representative Brigid Kelly's City League Tour of Freedom on Wednesday, June 2, 2021 in Avondale.

The people who showed up vowed to travel to Columbus and write letters to fight the bill.

“If these restrictions advance, they will not be the last to be presented to the state,” said Alissa Mayhaus. The 33-year-old White Oak resident is a member of the Westside Democratic Club. “We cannot allow this to proceed. Thank you for taking action. I am angry and ready to fight with you. “

The outlined Democratic legislators fear that the bill known as House Bill 294 will result in fewer ballots being counted and votes suppressed.

Ohio’s bill would abolish voting the day before election day, limit the use of ballot boxes to 10 days before the election, and require voters to request one vote 10 days before the election instead of three.

The bill would also allow voters to apply for postal ballot papers online.

Republicans said it was not about voter suppression. They employ electoral practices that were not previously in Ohio law. That includes drop boxes, said Seitz. They also pointed out that while early voting ends the day before election day, the number of early voting days remains the same at 28.

City hall Democrats said Wednesday night they see no reason for the republican changes other than voter repression.

Bride Rose Sweeney MP, a Cleveland Democrat, blamed President Donald Trump and Republicans’ refusal to accept the 2020 election results, which she called the big lie.

“It’s all related to the Big Lie idea and what happened on January 6th, and we have to be honest about this conversation,” Sweeney said on Wednesday.

Bill sponsors, Seitz and Rep. Sharon Ray, R-Wadsworth, called a press conference hours earlier Wednesday. Seitz targeted a common topic of conversation among Democrats in the House of Representatives that outlined words Democrats should not use when talking about electoral law: “fraud,” “security,” “safe,” “simple,” and “voter suppression “.

“Well, any party that doesn’t even recognize the need for safe elections, the need to stamp out electoral fraud … any party that goes so far deserves absolutely no credibility in terms of electoral law,” said Seitz.

Rep. Bill Seitz makes a statement in the House of Representatives at the Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus, Ohio on Wednesday, June 26, 2019.

As House Bill 294 passes through the legislature, expect busloads of Democrats to drive from Cincinnati to Columbus to protest. Cincinnati NAACP President Joe Mallory told lawmakers and the group on Wednesday that the NAACP plans to rent a bus when it is time for the public to testify before lawmakers about the bill.

“We’re trying to fight for our suffrage,” said Mallory. “We’ll be in Columbus.”

The biggest applause of the evening came after a speech by 9-year-old Amara Brookins from North College Hill. She is the cousin of Cincinnati civil rights activist Iris Roley who accompanied her to the podium.

She spoke out in favor of an online vote.

“In nine years, I’ll be old enough to vote,” said Brookins. “So please take some time until then to find out how I can safely vote online.”

Amara Brookins, 9, of North College Hill, speaks about the rejection of House Bill 294 during the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio Town Hall Tour hosted by State Representative Brigid Kelly in Avondale on Wednesday June 2, 2021.

The Democrats have planned four more town halls between Wednesday and Monday. You will be in Columbus on Thursday, Akron on Friday, Cleveland on Saturday, and Toledo on Monday.

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