November 26, 2014

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Judge orders expanded Ohio early voting schedule

Voters wait in line outside the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland on Nov. 5, 2012, the final day of early voting. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)

Voters wait in line outside the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland on Nov. 5, 2012, the final day of early voting. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)

 

COLUMBUS (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked an Ohio law that scales back early voting, ordering the state’s elections chief to set additional voting times just ahead of the fall election.

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Peter Economus comes in a lawsuit filed by civil rights groups, several predominantly black churches and others challenging two early voting measures in the perennial presidential battleground state.

One is a directive from Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted that established uniform early voting times and restricted weekend and evening hours. Another is a GOP-backed law that eliminates golden week, when people could both register to vote and cast ballots. Without those days, early voting would typically start 28 or 29 days before Election Day instead of the prior 35-day window.

Ohioans can vote absentee by mail or in person.

The plaintiffs claimed the new rules would make it difficult for residents to vote and disproportionately affect low-income and black voters, who, the groups say, are more likely to use the weekend and evening hours to vote early in elections. They said low-income voters are more likely to rely on public transportation, making it difficult to get to a polling location on a lunch break. The black churches in the lawsuit have offered parishioners a ride to the polls after Sunday services to vote early.

The state had argued the organizations couldn’t prove the rules illegally placed an undue burden on voters. State attorneys said the changes would cut costs for local elections boards and help prevent fraud because same-day registration and voting doesn’t give boards enough time to properly verify registration applications.

The judge sided with the plaintiffs, who include the Ohio chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP, and said the measures were unconstitutional and in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In granting the group’s request for a preliminary injunction, Economus characterized the measures’ burden on voting as “significant although not severe.”

The judge said that having decided to enact a broad early voting system, “Ohio and Secretary Husted may not capriciously change or implement that system in a manner that disproportionately burdens the right to vote of certain groups of voters.”

Under the judge’s order, early voting would begin Sept. 30 instead of Oct. 7. The ruling also directs Husted to require boards to set expanded evening hours and adds another Sunday to the state’s early voting schedule this fall.

Husted’s office said it was reviewing the ruling.

The secretary of state has previously defended his directive as a bipartisan solution because the hours were proposed by Republican and Democratic county elections officials.

Freda Levenson, managing attorney for ACLU of Ohio, said the early voting opportunities are key to residents with inflexible work schedules or other responsibilities that prevent them from getting to a polling place during regular business hours.

“This ruling means voters will not see their access to the ballot compromised during the upcoming election,” Levenson said.

The U.S. Justice Department had sided with the plaintiffs in the case, saying in a court filing in late July that the voting measures unfairly affect minority voters.

Economus set the next hearing in the lawsuit for Dec. 3.


  • Don Grantzki

    It’s important that the huge numbers of new citizens streaming across our borders at the invitation of the demmunists, have all the time needed to learn whom to vote for and who can “do the most for THEM.”

  • SJ82

    One day of voting, period. All this “early voting” is a sham to make it easier to stuff ballot boxes. The only people that should rate absentee ballots are deployed military, and those that actually go through the process to get a ballot, knowing they weren’t going to be around on election day.

    This is almost as bad as not requiring proof of identity.

    • Scout

      SJ82 don’t forget the state department and other government agencies that send personnel overseas-they vote absentee also- and they don’t complain one whit!

      • SJ82

        My statement wasn’t meant as a catch all, worthy citizens they might be.

        The point was that absentee ballots have been expanded into a nebulous “early voting” block to coddle the lazy and enable the illegal.

        • Scout

          I agree with you.

          • SJ82

            Appreciate it :D

            Not trying to totally slight absentee voting, I’ve done it when stationed elsewhere in the military. Just don’t agree with Joe Blow using it as an excuse to not bother going to the polls.

          • Scout

            Totally agree…and thank you for your service.

  • Tommy Peel

    It is a known fact that voter fraud is very minimal. These laws are designed to make it harder for people, who usually don’t vote for republicans to cast their ballot.

    • Pablo Jones

      It’s not a known fact. What is known is that only a few cases of voter fraud has been found. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t more voter fraud.

      • Tommy Peel

        Only a few cases have been found, because voter fraud is very minimal at best.

        • Pablo Jones

          Again you don’t know that unless you actually reviewed all voting records which hasn’t been done.

          • Itsmommy

            Authorities HAVE reviewed the voting records time and time again and found an insignificant amount of voter fraud.

          • Pablo Jones

            Authorities have not reviewed the records. They review individual cases, or a sampling. Or there have been other groups that have reviewed samples.

        • SJ82

          Says the expert on voter fraud.

          Explain to me how that works in a system that doesn’t require proof of identity to cast a vote?

          Chicago has a well known population of undead still participating. I imagine early voting is very convenient for them.

      • Itsmommy

        I guess that means that other than a VERY few proven cases, the rest of the voter fraud is in your imagination!! Furthermore, you contradicted yourself..as you said, IT IS A KNOWN FACT.

        • Pablo Jones

          What wonderful logic you have. If you only see and catch one roach in your house, then there can’t possibly be more. If you don’t see the homeless they must not exist either. You are are only one that said “IT IS A KNOWN FACT”. You can’t not know how much voter fraud exists unless there are stringent controls in place and an accurate review of the records which has not been done.

    • Joe Smith

      So why is it harder for one side to vote than the other? Both have the same time restrictions.

      • Tommy Peel

        Joe, it isn’t a matter of one side or the other side, certain areas have a much larger population than other areas. The whole logic is to avoid having people wait in long lines on election day to cast a ballot.

        • Pablo Jones

          And the 28 days available for early voting doesn’t eliminate those long lines? If 28 days doesn’t work then I don’t think 7 more days will.

          • Tommy Peel

            Yes

        • SJ82

          Wrong again.

          Less than 60% of the population votes regularly in national elections, and under 20% locally.

        • Joe Smith

          Not a matter of one side or another yet you felt the need to point out that it somehow benefited the Republicans when it does not benefit either side because both sides would have that extra time.

          • TommyK

            It benefits the republicans because most of the voters that takes advantage of early voting and expanded voting days are Dems. These laws are an attempt to curtail the democratic voting process. This is the second time that a federal judge has had to rule on a cruel voting law that has come out of Columbus. Jon Husted was threatened with contempt of court the last time a partisan voting law like this was passed.

          • Joe Smith

            If that is true, it still does not mean that they don’t get a chance to vote. The playing field is even.

          • Tommy Peel

            If the law was allowed to be implemented as written, then they wouldn’t get a chance to vote on the days that was eliminated. That is not a even playing field.!!!

          • Joe Smith

            So it is written that only Republicans can vote? Can you show me that please? If not, you have to admit that both sides have the exact same chance to vote.

      • Scout

        UHHHH maybe they can’t seem to find the time, ride, or inclination but certainly once it’s all over they scream disenfranchisement (laughing out loud)…for pete’s sake whatever address you give the election board they will send you and absentee ballot and all you have to do is mail it…oy!

        • SJ82

          QFT

    • SJ82

      Whenever someone starts a sentence with “everyone knows/ it’s a know fact”, the following words are inevitably bovine excrement.

    • Itsmommy

      Tommy Peel – Thank you for being the voice of reason amongst this overwhelming majority of Un-American responses. We should all fight for each others right to vote.

      • TommyK

        I read comments on this thread, and its obvious that a lot of people t on here can’t think for themselves. They are persuaded by the propaganda that the media feeds them.

  • 2muchgovernment

    Seriously? This is all a bunch of B.S. If people cannot find the time to vote early between October 7th & November 4th, what difference is an extra 7 days going to make? If voting was truly important to them, they would find the time or vote via absentee ballot. Stop catering to all the cry babies.

    • Tommy Peel

      Its a shame that lawmakers are busy passing bills that tinkers with the voting process, in order to satisfy their one sided agenda, instead of passing meaningful legislation to benefit everyone in the state.

      • Peter Aldrich

        Yeah, for years we had one day……

      • SJ82

        You mean like when it was only on one day??

    • Scout

      Or certain segments of society who feel the need that they are being shut out….that goes for all peoples who say ‘not fair’. shame on you-everyone of you. Get your a$$e$ our of bed, off the corner, go out at lunch, or wherever you are and vote doggone it. You don’t need over a month to decide if you need to vote, let alone VOTE! Just do it!!!!!

  • John Davidson

    It appears to me that those that they want the early voting for have plenty of time as most of them don’t hold a job and our living on the taxpayers dollar.

  • Peter Aldrich

    Utter BS. One day was enough for many years……why change? Oh….we have make sure all the still registered that are dead or in alzheimer units vote for Dems…… How could I forget?

  • Rufus

    ” The only people that should rate absentee ballots are deployed
    military, and those that actually go through the process to get a
    ballot, knowing they weren’t going to be around on election day.”???

    I can tell you’ve never worked for or been around an election board. So you don’t want the older people in nursing homes, people that work over seas or are out of state temporally working, people who may live in another state 3/4 months out of the year starting in Sept, people that may be hospitalized for a period of time etc to get a chance to vote!

    The reason for absent T is to get BALLOTS prior to the voting day. That is the process to get a ballot only prior to election day. Otherwise you have to go to the poles to vote.

    But you’re an American………with voting rights. As the rest of us.

    Voter fraud is less then 1% overall. I bet you didn’t know that the absent T ballots are NOT counted until 10 days after the election in Ohio. Then if there is a wide margin they may not becounted at all. Because the total absent T is less than the margin. It’s not as easy as you think it is to fraudulently vote. Because before your name is put in to the voter registry book you have to prove who you are.

    So what if voting is open 1 week or 4 the process is still the same. Yes there may be some exceptions. But that goes for anything and everything.

  • Rufus

    Oops I meant to say any absent T ballots that are challenged because of missing info from voter are put in to a vault for 10 days and may not be counted depending on the out come of the general voting. They have to be verified also before being counted.