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NV conservation group supports FERC's transmission planning rule; Memorial Day weekend includes Tornadoes and record-high temperatures; A focus on the Farm Bill for Latino Advocacy Week in D.C; and Southeast Alaska is heating homes with its rainfall.

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U.S. Supreme Court allows South Carolina gerrymander that dilutes Black voters, Sen. Ted Cruz refuses to say if he'll accept 2024 election results, and Trump calls Mar-a-Lago search an attempt to have him assassinated.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Push is on to add Voters Bill of Rights to Ohio Constitution

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Friday, January 19, 2024   

Ohioans may have the chance to add a new Voters Bill of Rights to the state Constitution to support ballot access.

Voting rights' advocates said they want better controls on the state's purging of voter registration rolls. They also want early voting days restored, and protections enshrined in the Constitution, rather than only in law.

Petee Talley, executive director of the Ohio Coalition on Black Civic Participation, said although previous attempts to make the additions have been rejected, she is optimistic the changes would increase turnout and make elections more fair.

"The amendment is going to help build an equitable path to the ballot box for all Ohioans," Talley pointed out. "While continuing to ensure that Ohio has elections that are secure and are administered with integrity whenever we voters go to the ballot box."

The coalition has submitted amendment language and aims to gather at least 400,000 signatures starting in February for this coming November's ballot. First, they need Attorney General and Ohio Ballot Board approval, within the next 10 days.

Last week, a federal judge upheld Republican-backed House Bill 458, which pushed several new voting restrictions through the Ohio Legislature. The ruling found the restrictions on in-person and absentee voting processes did not violate the U.S. Constitution.

Talley noted voters recently rejected proposals to restrict constitutional amendments, which has motivated the new push to reinforce voting rights.

"We're hopeful that now is the time to take such a basic issue that is the right of all Americans and try and enshrine that in the Constitution," Talley stressed. "Especially given that it sometimes feels like politicians in Columbus are not listening to the will of the voters."

In August of last year, voters decided not to make the Ohio constitutional amendment process more difficult. Instead, they voted to allow amendments to pass with a simple majority rather than a supermajority.

Reporting by Ohio News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.


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