This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of meeting with a variety of Ohio Reproductive Justice Advocates to discuss strategy and outreach. Aside from being an honor to join with friends and strangers alike dedicated to the same cause of freedom as myself – some of whom are the amazing grassroots activists who started Ohio Lady Advocates – it was an important opportunity for us to reflect on some of our successes and failings when communicating with people outside of the Pro-Choice network, who may not understand the type of opposition the state is up against these days. I’m still working through the different revisions that I feel I need to apply to myself, and look forward to incorporating what I learned from OHLA into my own outreach. But for this post, I want to focus primarily on an important issue that seems to be lacking the outrage it deserves from the Pro-Choice community in particular.
One of the many things we discussed was the recent voter suppression bill, HB194. This is an important issue not just for progressives in general, but specifically as it relates to the recent attacks on women’s healthcare here in Ohio.
Some of the effects this bill would have:
• If voters are at the wrong precinct, poll workers would not be required to advise them of this or direct them to the correct one. This would result in votes not being counted.
• Mail-in voting would be reduced from 5 weeks to 3 weeks.
• Early voting in person would no longer be available during evening hours or Sundays.
• Early voting in person would be reduced from 5 weeks to 2 weeks.
• Third party candidates on the ballot would no longer have party identification.
• Those convenient absentee ballot applications we get in the mail? Ended entirely.
This bill is a blatant attempt to disenfranchise Ohio voters, for sure. Voters whose careers have them out of town and state, such as our Military Service men and women, the elderly, those holding down multiple jobs – these people need options. Without absentee ballots, or weekend voting, many would not be able to cast their vote. But it’s more than that. This is a concentrated effort on behalf of our Republican legislators to prevent progressive minded voters in particular from exercising their right to choose their own elected officials. Citizens most affected by these roadblocks would include students, who are known to vote Democrat; the working-poor and unemployed, who are known to vote Democrat; and minorities of various economic status, who are known to vote… you guessed it, Democrat.
Who will be voting NO on Issue 2 this November? While SB5 has indeed managed to reach across party lines like no Republican ever has, angering both conservatives and progressives alike in it’s attempt to denigrate our most dedicated public servants; the majority of NO votes will most likely come from Democratic voters.
Less progressive turnout = more conservative wins, as the midterms of 2010 so harshly reminded us. That is, after all, the reason we now have a Governor more interested in attacking women, first-responders, and our children’s teachers than he is in putting Ohio back to work. It is imperative that we get our base to the polls. Don’t forget, as if this year’s attacks on women’s healthcare weren’t enough, we may be facing a Personhood Amendment in 2012.
Activists like ourselves have plenty of work to do as it is, and this bill has only added to the burden already resting on our shoulders. But we will take it on, as we always do. I think Republicans have underestimated our resolve to preserve the rights we’ve already battled for. We need to show them we are Patriots, in the truest sense: Equal and fair opportunity for all, from healthcare to voting rights, our personal liberties are NOT up for debate.
West Clevelanders: We will be collecting signatures for Cuyahoga & Lorain County residents at the Giant Eagle store in Biddulph Plaza (6300 Biddulph Road) on Friday, Sept. 9th from 4:30pm-7:30pm. Please tell your friends! Also planning to be at the zoo next week, date TBA.
Go here to learn about signing events in your area or to volunteer to collect signatures for the HB194 VETO. Go Ohio!