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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.

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