Rep. Sweeney introduces Election Engagement Restoration Act to repeal hastily-passed bans on most election official assistance with voting activity


COLUMBUS — State Representative Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) today introduced the Election Engagement Restoration Act, legislation repealing two hastily-passed obstacles to voting that were tacked onto the two-thousand page state operating budget at the last minute and became law without any public input. 

“Keeping a law on the books that could be used to prevent voter education, registration, and outreach – even at nonpartisan events – is dangerous. Our bipartisan Boards of Elections know best how to run our elections, and they already have checks in place to ensure impartiality,” said Rep. Sweeney. “Nothing should become law without public vetting; we have the legislative process for a reason, especially when it comes to our freedom to vote. I hope this legislation receives prompt consideration and passage before any damage is done.”

The Election Engagement Restoration Act simply repeals two new sections of the Revised Code. The first provision bans any public official from working with or accepting donations from any “nongovernmental person or entity for any costs or activities related to voter registration, voter education, voter identification, get-out-the-vote, absent voting, election official recruitment or training, or any other election-related purpose” (Ohio Revised Code § 3501.054). 

The second provision to be repealed is a ban on legal settlements between public officials and third parties, instead forcing endless and costly litigation (Ohio Revised Code § 9.58). In recent years, good government groups have secured important agreements to protect homeless voters, preserve voter access to the last three days of early voting, and prevent voters from being purged and having their votes rejected. This prohibition takes away a basic tool for resolving conflict and clearing obstacles to voting. 

House Bill 380 is currently pending referral to a House Committee for further consideration.

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