Ohio GOP prepares a big vote-blocking bill—while Democrats petition for a “ballot referendum” in November! (Are they NUTS?)

John Kasich, Ohio’s Tea-bag “governor,” is doing everything he can to turn the Buckeye State into a Koch-head’s paradise, where corporations run the show, and everybody else can either go along with it or just crawl off and die somewhere. A big part of this program is, of course, the elimination of collective-bargaining rights, just as in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and wherever else the Kochs et al. have seized control.

So what are progressive workers doing to fight back? According to Amy Hanauer, writing in The Nation (http://www.thenation.com/article/160617/ohio-new-kind-battleground), here’s what they have planned:

“Having gathered enough signatures to get their petition language approved, supporters of collective bargaining rights say they’ve already signed up 10,000 volunteers to gather the more than 231,000 signatures needed to restore collective bargaining rights through a ballot referendum in November.”

A ballot referendum? Using the exact same voting system that “elected” Kasich in the first place? As I’ve reported in the past—based on the work of both Jonathan Simon of the Election Defense Alliance, and Bob Fitrakis of the Free Press (in Columbus, OH)—John Kasich’s “narrow victory” (over Democrat Ted Strickland) in 2010 was marked by a 3-point “red shift,” which is to say, a discrepancy between the “unadjusted” exit poll results and the official numbers. The same gap marked the “victory” of Repub Mike DeWine (over Democrat Rob Cordray) in the Attorney General contest. The “upset” wins by those two Tea-baggers were the only such (let’s call them) questionable victories in Ohio’s last elections, suggesting that those “upset” wins weren’t really wins at all in any democratic (or repubican) sense,  but mere winning strokes of fraud.

Nor, of course, was that the first time that Republicans had fraudulently “won” elections in Ohio, nor the first time unadjusted exit poll results had failed to match the official numbers there. You may recall what happened in Ohio in 2004—or, if you’re like many Democrats, you may prefer not to recall, or know at all, what happened there. Suffice it
to say that the voting system in Ohio has, for several years, been prone to lots of startling glitches and anomalies, all of which have somehow helped the GOP alone. Which is another way of saying that the progressive workers’ plan to mount a “ballot referendum in  November” probably does not have John Kasich, or Mike DeWine——or David
Koch——losing any sleep.

Especially now that Ohio’s House has passed a sweeping new vote-blocking bill that would it harder for Ohioans to get hold of absentee ballots, limit the early-voting period, and otherwise shrink the pool of eligible voters. (See below.) This just two months after Ohio’s GOP pushed hard to pass a photo ID bill there. This latest move, if the state senate gets on board, could well result in a whole raft of changes that will make that “ballot referendum” quite impossible to pass, no matter how widespread its actual support.

So, now that Ohio’s legislature plans to disenfranchise even more Ohioans, and since Ohio’s counties still deploy the same corrupt, opaque and easily hackable e-voting systems that they’ve used to benefit Republicans before, will those progressive workers finally snap out of their trance, and start pushing a genuinely democratic system? Or will they at least set up a proper exit polling operation, and closely monitor the polls throughout the state, mobilizing people to participate not just as voters but as trained election whistleblowers?

While those would be quite healthy steps, what they’re planning now is, frankly, sick——because, as we’ve all heard a million times, one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, yet somehow expecting things to turn out differently this time. By that definition, those progressives in Ohio—like those in Wisconsin, going all-out to win their recall elections this July—may just be too crazy ever to succeed.



House approves elections changes
Bill shrinks early-voting periods, limits mailings of absentee-ballot requests
THURSDAY, MAY 19, 2011 03:11 AM

Elections officials no longer could send absentee-ballot applications to all Franklin County voters, and the time for in-person early voting would be significantly reduced under an elections-overhaul bill that the Ohio House passed yesterday along party lines.

The sweeping bill also would attempt to lessen the need to cast provisional ballots, allow election boards to save money through bulk purchasing, and let voters update registrations online.

It represents a “significant move in the right direction to unify our electoral process in the state of Ohio,” said Rep. Robert Mecklenborg, R-Cincinnati.

Read more.

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