Justice Update: Ohio Voting Reforms?

Dear First UU,

If you didn’t catch it, our service this week discussed what we’ve learned as a congregation about how White Supremacy shows up in the world around us, and what we’ve done about it in the past year. Looking back, I’m feeling amazed by what we’ve accomplished in just one year! From educating ourselves to researching systemic solutions to showing up, we’ve been doing good work this year, and I’m excited to see how we can deepen our work in the year to come. You can learn more at our Annual Meeting next Sunday, and in the Justice Ministry report.

One of the ways we talked about how White Supremacy shows up is in some of the bills coming through our Ohio Statehouse that target the strategies of Black organizers who led protests against police brutality last summer, as well as new voting bills that put obstacles in the way of voting. Our justice update this month is about House Bill 294, and comes from our Democracy and Human Rights Focus Group and the Ohio Voter Rights Coalition. Learn more about how House Bill 294 harms voting accessibility for overseas military voters, voters with less internet access, incarcerated voters, and voters with disabilities – and what you can do about it, below. And don’t forget to keep reading to find out about other featured justice opportunities.

Peace and love to you wherever you may be in this moment,

Amanda Hays
Justice Coordinator

About House Bill 294

“After conducting one of the most secure elections in Ohio’s history in 2020, the state legislature just introduced HB 294, a voting reform bill that adds some potentially good provisions, including automatic voter registration and online absentee ballot requests.

But the bill also includes a host of anti-voter provisions like limiting access to ballot drop boxes, imposing confusing voter-ID requirements, cancelling early voting the Monday before Election Day, and shortening the absentee ballot request period, to name a few.

By using a few common-sense reforms as cover, the legislature is setting a trap for Ohio voters. Even though HB 294 includes some common-sense updates, Ohio voters shouldn’t be fooled into supporting this bill. At the end of the day, the bill restricts our freedom to vote by limiting dropboxes, cutting the time to request absentee ballots by a full week, and imposing confusing ID rules that create unnecessary red tape for election officials and long lines for voters.

If we unite our voices and hold our leaders accountable, we can keep the good and throw out the bad in this bill.”


Check out this brief analysis of House Bill 294 by the Ohio Voting Rights Coalition

Watch the Ohio Voter Rights Coalition’s press briefing about House Bill 294

Join our Democracy & Human Rights Action Hour!

Wednesday, June 2, 6-7pm ET

What will you do to protect our democracy and uphold human rights?

  • Make a phone call?
  • Send an email?
  • Mail a postcard?
  • Write a letter?
  • Register voters?
  • Give testimony?
  • Protest?

Email contact-democracyandhumanrights@firstuucolumbus.org for the Zoom Link.

Join us for one hour on June 2 to take action on HB 294 – Voter Suppression in Ohio and S.1 – For the People Act – Federal Anti-Voter Suppression.

Watch for monthly Action Hour notices.

How Can UU Take Action?

If you haven’t yet, please check out our “Take Action” page.  Just click on the “Justice” tab above, then click “Take Action.”

We will keep it updated so that opportunities to take action that you see are current. Check it out: https://firstuucolumbus.org/justice-action-ministry/justice-action/


Featured Justice Opportunities

Summer S’mores & Eco Hang-outs


Tuesday, June 29 – Friday, July 30 – Wednesday, August 18

6-8 pm, in the First UU parking lot

Stop by one or more low-key gatherings around a summer evening campfire as we restart the Environmental Justice Focus Group! Bring a sack dinner and we’ll provide the S’mores. Let’s talk about what we’re most excited about doing together in the coming year to care for our earth, our global neighbors, our non-human relatives, our spiritual connection with nature, and our children’s children.

So many possibilities! What stirs your passion?

Sharing books, research, documentaries – Discussion group – Worship services – Workshops – Daily Environmentalism (eating less meat, using less fossil fuel, etc.) – Bring in speakers – Healthy environment as social justice – UUJO – UU Ministry for Earth – Interfaith Power and Light – Sunrise Columbus – Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW) – Buckeye Environmental Network – Our building and grounds – Using our facility as teaching tool – Become a Green Sanctuary – Fracking – Healthy water – Green Columbus – Industrial Ag & factory farms – Climate Change – Promoting socially conscious investments – Earth-based and pagan spirituality – Animal ministry – Community garden – Green philosophy

June: Undies Sundays


Anytime in June, Feed & Read Ohio will be taking donations of children’s underwear, all sizes. You can also always donate food or other high-quality items you no longer need. Donations go to populations in Columbus and Athens county who have the most difficulty accessing food pantries and social services. Drop off donations to Feed & Read Ohio outside Jacques’s house, 617 Woodsfield Dr., Columbus, OH 43214.

Juneteenth Jubilee

Saturday, June 19, 2021 at 1-6 PM ET at Goodale Park

Black Liberation Movement Central Ohio (BLMCO) is hosting a Juneteenth Jubilee this Summer, and we are encouraging First UUers to join in.

“2021 is the first year that Juneteenth will be a recognized holiday in Ohio. To mark the occasion, we are hosting an exquisite festival to celebrate Black culture, accomplishments, and joy. Come out and experience amazing food, local vendors, music, performances, and more.”

Check out BLMCO’s Facebook Event for more information.

Miss the Nehemiah Action? Watch the Recording!

You can watch the whole action or just the sections you’re most interested in. The action includes moving testimonies and footage of BREAD using people power to encourage our city leaders to take action – and our own Justice Coordinator Amanda Hays led the closing prayer! Watch here.

Note: there was a technical mic issue at the beginning of the action, so you may want to skip about 3 minutes in to where the sound starts

Tech Help Needed!

Help Button, Keyboard, Button, Help, Computer, Support

Would you like to contribute your skills in web design or social media to First UU’s Justice Ministry?

Contact Amanda Hays at amanda@firstuucolumbus.org