Back in 2012 we reported that Republican AG Mike DeWine and SOS Jon Husted were racking up tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees defending state laws specifically aimed at keeping certain voters from accessing the polls.   Not surprisingly, the targeted voters, like students and African Americans, tend to vote for Democrats.

That number now exceeds 1.5 million dollars according to a recent press release from State Representative Kathleen Clyde.

“It’s disappointing that we have a secretary of state who insults federal judges and wastes millions of taxpayer dollars in failed attempts to restrict voting,” said Clyde. “State records show the secretary has spent over $1.5 million on outsourced legal services since 2011. That doesn’t include the costs of full time state attorneys at the AG’s office who must defend him in these suits. Nor does it include the costs of the four currently ongoing lawsuits that are likely to be paid for by taxpayers.”

Those state records show $595,116.66 was paid in special counsel and legal fees to outside law firms,  $54,000.00 was paid in rendered judgments and settlements and $862,624.11 was paid in attorney fees for the groups suing the state over Republican attacks on voting rights.

A portion of those fees went to compensate William S. Consovoy from the firm Wiley Rein LLP who similarly defended the State of Florida on its efforts to reduce voting hours preferred by African American voters.  Consovoy also pushed an unsuccessful constitutional challenge against the Voting Rights Act, the landmark legislation which outlawed discriminatory voting practices.

Ohio Voice has put together a list of the most harmful bills that block voter access and participation:


SB 47 – Made it more difficult for voters to repeal unpopular laws and to introduce their own citizen initiated laws.  Reduced the amount of time for petitioners to collect signatures needed to pass a referendum or initiative.

SB 193 – Limited the ability of minor parties and candidates to gain access to the ballot and retain party recognition.



SB 205 –Throws out absentee ballots if voters make minor errors such as transposing a number in a zip code or address or providing the current date instead of their birth date. Prohibits Boards of Elections from sending out unsolicited absentee applications to voters and gives the legislature the exclusive right to authorize statewide mailings from year to year, depending on the whim of the legislature.  Poll workers prevented from completing any portion of the absentee envelope unless the voter is disabled.

Status: Enjoined by NEOCH v. Husted 6/7/16.  Being appealed to Sixth Circuit.

SB 216 – Reduces the time period for voters to provide required information to the board of election from 10 days to 7 days after the election. Prevents trained poll workers from completing any portion of confusing provisional ballot forms on behalf of the voter.

Status: Enjoined by NEOCH v. Husted 6/7/16.  Being appealed to Sixth Circuit.

SB 238 – Reduces the time period for early voting from 35 days to 29 days and eliminates Golden Week, the five day period when voters can conveniently register to vote and vote early in person.

Status: Enjoined by ODP v. Husted 5/24/16.  Being appealed to Sixth Circuit.



SB 296  – Makes it more difficult for voters to obtain court-ordered extended voting hours in the event of technology failures, inclement weather, or other emergencies that substantially impair voting. Requires petitioners to post an excessive bond (modern-day poll tax) to cover overtime costs for an election, which may be waived by a judge or upon filing an affidavit of indigency.

Provides the state an immediate right to appeal, and raises the standard of proof by requiring petitioners to show clear and convincing evidence that no prospect of a fair election exists without court intervention.

Status: Senate concurred to House amendments 5/25/16.  Awaiting signature from Governor.

HB 59 – Attempted to restrict the ability of students to vote from campus by revoking public universities’ funding for out-of- state students if schools provided students with voter ID.

Status: Provision removed from state budget and signed by Governor 6/2013.

SB 109 – Attempted to throw out of votes for a technical mistake known as “double bubble voting,” in which a voter circles the bubble for a candidate and also writes in the same candidate’s name.  Votes would have been thrown out for regular Election Day voters, but not for absentee or provisional voters.

Status: Provision removed from bill and referred by House of Representatives 10/2013.

HB 53 – Attempted to require those who register to vote in Ohio to obtain an Ohio driver’s license and register their vehicles with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles within 30 days.   Current law permits people to register to vote in Ohio while retaining an out-of- state driver’s license. License and registration fees cost upwards of $75 and therefore would be a significant deterrent to register to vote in this state.

Status: Governor vetoed this provision in the transportation budget 4/2015.