In 2013, the Republican controlled state house of Ohio passed Senate Bill 193. Shortly thereafter, it became known to its opponents as the “John Kasich Re-election Protection Act” since it attacks third parties in Ohio by putting arbitrary restrictions to grassroots organizing. For example, volunteers for a minor political party (e.g. petitioners) must also have voted in that same party’s primary; this devastates the Green Party and the Libertarian Party, which have active cross-membership with other political parties. Due to deadline changes, minor parties would not even have a 2014 primary. Furthermore, each of the minor parties must obtain at least 3 percent of the statewide vote in order to stay on the ballot. These among, many other restrictions, would ensure that the people of Ohio would be unable to vote to a minor party; stripping them of their right to express themselves politically.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014, Judge Michael H. Watson blocked the implementation of the bill retroactively in a preliminary injunction, which would have banned minor parties from the 2014 election cycle. Though there is still much work to be done since it only applies to this election cycle, Ohio’s minor parties are already praised Judge Waton’s decision. Aaron Keith Harris, a LPO central committee chairman and Ohio candidate for secretary of state says “Kasich and the Republican party thought they were silencing the growing liberty movement in Ohio, but now they have one hell of a fight on their hands.” For the years beyond 2014, the battle for voter rights will have to carry on.
This is not the first time that the right to vote has been threatened in Ohio. Also passed in 2013 was Senate Bill 238 and 205. SB 238 substantially reduces the early, in-person voting time-frame by getting rid of “Golden Week”. In this week, voters may register and vote at the same time. SB 205 radically changed absentee voting rules that dis-proportionally effect the lower class.