Group pushes voter guarantees on ballot

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A coalition of black lawmakers, clergy and civil rights leaders are backing an Ohio constitutional amendment guaranteeing certain voter protections in the perennial battleground.

The Voter Bill of Rights was launched Thursday ahead of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Ohio Legislative Black Caucus president Alicia Reece is among backers. She urged a crowd in Washington this summer to relaunch King's dream by supporting constitutional amendments in their states guaranteeing access to polls and freedom from intimidation.

The effort responds to a June decision by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down a section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. A bevy of states have toughened voter laws since the ruling.

Proponents say such measures guard against voter fraud. Critics say the new restrictions are aimed at suppressing low-income voters, particularly minorities.