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Judge blocks Ohio law limiting signature gatherers

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Courtesy of MGN Online Courtesy of MGN Online

By JULIE CARR SMYTH

AP Statehouse Correspondent

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A federal judge has temporarily blocked enforcement of an Ohio law barring out-of-state residents from circulating the petitions needed to place an issue or candidate on the ballot.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson in Columbus said in ruling earlier this week that he could identify no harm that would come to the state from allowing non-Ohioans to gather signatures.

The injunction comes in a dual challenge by the Libertarian Party of Ohio and a group that includes Citizens in Charge, a ballot access organization, and backers of two active ballot campaigns.

The law's opponents argue Ohio's new signature-gathering rules infringe on their First Amendment right to free political speech by limiting their choice in signature gatherers.

The state says the law places only a minimal burden on the process.

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