In the Margin of Litigation

by Steve Hoffman on February 10, 2012

All eyes will be on Ohio Nov. 6, the state once again playing a crucial role in the presidential election. The question, as former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell once put it, is whether the results will be “within the margin of litigation.” A close election could mean contested ballots, and Ohio could have plenty of them if voters are confused about the complexities of election law.

Republicans in the Ohio Senate do plan to repeal House Bill 194, which is headed for the November ballot for a referendum. A repeal might blunt Democratic turnout, the party and its allies having worked hard to put the bill on the ballot and its provisions on hold. But repeal would end the possibility of a bitter campaign that would confuse voters about what set of rules apply.

Republicans are now talking about a bipartisan compromise to enact a new elections bill that would go effect before Nov. 6. It’s hard to see any points of agreement between the two sides. And if Republicans use their majorities to pass a replacement bill, Democrats are threatening another referendum. For now, it looks like compromise will have to wait for 2013.

Steve Hoffman
This article was written by Steve Hoffman, Steve Hoffman was named an editorial writer for the Akron Beacon Journal in September 2001. He writes a weekly column of political analysis and contributes to the paper’s unsigned editorials and endorsements. Steve spent ten years as politics writer, covering national, state and local elections, including six national political conventions and statewide campaigns for president, the U.S. Senate and governor. He has been with the Beacon Journal for 25 years and held a variety of newsroom reporting and editing assignments and has won national, statewide and local news awards, including Ohio SPJ awards, Associated Press of Ohio awards and Akron Press Club awards. Steve has freelanced for the New York Times and Time, Newsweek and Business Week magazines. He is a guest lecturer on the media and politics at Kent State University and The University of Akron.

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