Thursday, February 09, 2012

Niehaus Statement on Repeal of Election Reform Bill

(Columbus) - Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus issued the following statement on Senate Bill 295, a bill introduced today by Senator Bill Coley (R-Liberty Township) that would repeal an elections reform bill now subject to referendum:

"Late last year, several of our members began exploring the idea of repealing House Bill 194. We passed that bill in an effort to provide local elections officials with the clear guidelines they needed to fairly and effectively manage the upcoming presidential contest. Unfortunately, the reforms we enacted won't be available for the 2012 election due to a referendum on the bill, so we made the decision to take a step back and revisit the debate in hopes of reaching a more bipartisan consensus.

We established two years ago a framework of compromise between Republicans and Democrats on a set of reforms that all sides agreed were critical to the integrity of our elections process. I've asked our members to use that as a foundation from which to build a new reform effort. Some changes can likely wait until after the November election, but others are needed this year to provide clarity in advance of one of the largest turnout elections Ohio will face in this decade.

I recognize that partisan supporters of the referendum are now arguing against a repeal after publicly supporting the idea. I'm left to assume they've been ordered by partisan operatives to reverse their position and keep this on the ballot in an effort to incite their base of supporters in a presidential election. They should put aside the hyper-partisan press conferences and join us in discussing a responsible compromise, and we can start with the agreements they've already made. I look forward to the dialogue."