Federal District Court Judge Economus ruled in favor in the early voting lawsuit. Golden Week is restored as are evening hours and an additional Sunday of early voting. Another victory for ALL Ohioans! An appeal by the Secretary of State and the AG could be forthcoming as GOP continues to attempt to restrict Ohioans voting rights and voting opportunities.
Documents filed with the amicus brief were cited to undercut one of the GOP’s main purported justifications for eliminating Golden Week. The Democratic Miniority Caucus of the Ohio House of Representatives showed that its elimination did not add any time to the period that election officials would have to confirm a voter’s address after they register and vote.
Here is a summary of the order: Judge Economus granted the preliminary injunction against SB 238. He held that SB 238 and the related directives issued by Secretary Husted were unconstitutional and a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. For the November 2014 Election he ordered the following:
EIP must be permitted for 35 days out from the general election (status quo pre S.B. 238)
Husted shall require BOEs to set uniform and suitable EIP voting hours for:
- Tuesday-Friday, September 30-October 3
- Monday, October 6
- Evening hours between Monday, October 20 and Friday, October 24 and between Monday, October 27 and Friday, October 31 and must “in good faith” consider the judge’s ruling when setting such hours.
- Sunday, October 26
Husted may not prevent individual county BOEs from adopting additional hours by a majority vote their members.
Future elections are reserved for future consideration.
Yet Again—Federal Court Finds Husted Violated Ohioans’ Voting Rights
Republican Secretary of State has turned the office into a partisan lapdog, not a watchdog for voters’ rights
COLUMBUS – In response to today’s federal court ruling declaring Jon Husted’s directive and other efforts to cut early voting in Ohio before the November general elections as a violation of the constitution and of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern issued the following statement:
“Jon Husted has a documented history of filing last minute appeals and issuing unconstitutional, eleventh-hour directives that aim to prevent convenient early voting hours, and this partisan agenda has wasted over $400,000 of taxpayers’ dollars. Ohioans deserve a Secretary of State that will fight for expansive voting opportunities for working middle class families, not add to voter confusion with last ditch appeals. That is why Ohioans will elect State Senator Nina Turner to be the next Secretary of State.”
An August poll conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of the Ohio Democratic Party showed Jon Husted narrowly ahead of Senator Nina Turner by 46% to 43%.
FROM TODAY’S OPINION*: “Secretary Husted has offered no explanation as to why uniformity, standing alone, should be considered an interest important enough to effectively make it harder for groups of citizens to vote.” [Source: Memorandum Opinion and Order, page 59-60 (9/4/2014)]
*A copy of the opinion is attached: Early Voting Decision – 9.04.14.
Three major Ohio editorials made it clear that these bills were being passed for no other reason than deny likely Democratic voters the vote before the 2014 election. The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s editorial said that the measures “aim to limit voting by Ohioans who might vote for Democrats” and called passage of the bills “an affront to democracy” that allowed politicians to “pick their own voters.” [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (2/19/2014), “Ohio House Republicans should walk away from bills aimed at decreasing the ease of voting in Ohio”]
The Toledo Blade editorial said the bills “would make it harder to vote among citizens whom GOP politicians would rather keep away from the polls.” On the GOP argument that the bills were need to fight “voter fraud,” the Blade noted “[t]hat argument would be more credible if those who make it could point to specific examples of fraud in Ohio voting that their measures would prevent. But they can’t offer evidence of systematic fraud, because it doesn’t exist. These bad measures aren’t as blatant as the poll taxes and literacy tests that Southern elections officials used during the civil rights era a half-century ago to keep African-Americans from voting. But their effect is largely, and intolerably, the same, and their approval would seem to invite court challenges under federal voting rights law.” [Source: Toledo Blade (2/19/14), “Don’t suppress the vote”]
The Akron Beacon Journal editorial noted that the Republicans decided that “[r]ather than work in a bipartisan way on a comprehensive overhaul of election laws, the Republican-run legislature has proceeded on its own unfortunate course. This week, the Ohio House is working on bills that push aside important priorities and contain flaws that would make voting more difficult.” [Source: Akron Beacon Journal (2/18/2014), “Election partisans”]
Jon Husted supported cutting early voting days by a week. According to the Columbus Dispatch, Secretary of State Husted recommends that “early voting would instead start 29 days before the election” but it end during the afternoon “the Sunday before the general election.” [Source: Columbus Dispatch, (10/24/2013), “Husted promotes limits on early voting.”]
Federal courts already ruled in 2012 and 2014 that Husted’s prior attempts to cut general election early voting days were illegal. In 2012, the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Ohio ruled that Ohio could not cut off early voting the Friday before the general election. Republicans attempted to reduce the number of days of early voting, but the Ohio General Assembly reversed course after HB 194 was threatened with a referendum campaign. [Source: Reuters (8/31/12), “Court overturns Ohio early voting restrictions in win for Democrats.”]
This relief granted by the Court was made permanent in 2014. [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer, (6/11/2014), “Federal court orders Ohio restore early voting hours on 3 days before Election Day.”]
The decision declaring Republicans’ attempt to cut off early voting before Election Day unconstitutional was upheld by federal appellate courts. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision declaring the restriction “unconstitutional.” “The court acknowledged an argument that ‘low-income and minority voters are disproportionately affected by elimination’ of the three days of polling for many voters and said ‘there is no definitive evidence… that elections boards would be tremendously burdened’ by returning poll access to the standard before recent changes to the state’s laws.”
[Source: CNN (10/5/2012), “Federal court upholds Ohio early voting ruling.”]
According to official records maintained by Jon Husted’s own office, more than 600,000 Ohioans used early in-person voting in 2012. [Source: Ohio Secretary of State’s website, 2012 “Absentee Ballot Report.”]