Marc Kovac - Tracking the saga of Ohio's election system

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COLUMBUS -- I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you about House Bill 194 and House Bill 224 and Senate Bill 295.

I'd like to outline for you the contents of HB 194, that ginormous election bill passed over Democratic objections that almost became law, until opponents launched a referendum drive to place it before voters.

I'd like to try to explain how Republican lawmakers managed to sneak some parts of HB 194 into HB 224, via a technical amendment that Democrats didn't question, and how that new bill with its focus on military voters became law with near-unanimous support.

I'd like to review the about face GOP lawmakers made earlier this year when, after months of criticism from the minority party and with a looming ballot issue that promised to bring left-leaning voters to the polls in November, they decided HB 194 wasn't a good idea and opted to repeal it, via SB 295, again over Democratic members' objections.

I'd like to come up with a simple explanation for why the reelection campaign of President Barack Obama is suing the state over HB 194 and HB 224 and SB 295 in a case that questions whether military voters should be allowed to cast ballots in person on the Monday before Election Day when other eligible Ohioans cannot.

I'd like to help you understand why Democrats and HB 194 opponents are so angry that they're referendum won't appear on the November ballot, though Republicans preemptively gave them exactly what their referendum would have accomplished if a majority of voters backed their repeal effort.

I'd like to lay out the challenges facing the state's chief elections official, no matter the political affiliation, during a presidential election year, using the negative national attention on GOP Secretary of State Jon Husted last week and his ultimate decision to limit early in-person voting hours at all elections boards as a prime example.

I'd like to join those people who oversimplify and trivialize such matters and place blame solely on the shoulders of one political party or the other rather than shifting their ire to all of the participating politicians, who would rather bicker in public and score political points than work together to address the real concerns both sides have about polling place access and potential voter fraud.

I'd like to think that sometime after Nov. 6, Statehouse Republicans and Democrats will compromise and offer citizens realistic election reform, with both sides giving a little and getting a little.

I'd really like it if all of the people involved -- Democrats, Republicans, nonpartisans, family, neighbors and friends -- would shift their efforts to helping voters cast ballots, whether in person or through the mail, in the month or so before Election Day.

And I'd really like it if people would pour their energies into making sure they have cast their ballots, whether during Ohio's early voting period in October or on Election Day, instead of in complaining that they don't have access to the polls.

I'd really like all of that to happen, but it would give the partisans another opportunity to do what they do best, and that would confuse Ohioans more than they already are about our elections process.

So just ignore all of the nonsense and go vote when you have the chance.

(Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.)

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