Democrats in the Ohio Senate on Tuesday called for a minimum number of early voting hours in the swing state, along with the flexibility for local elections boards to make their own schedules. The proposed legislation follows a federal court ruling last week in a dispute over two measures limiting early voting. One measure, a directive from Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, established uniform early voting times and restricted weekend and evening hours. The other is a GOP-backed law that eliminates so-called golden week, when people could both register to vote and cast ballots. Without them, early voting would typically start 28 or 29 days before Election Day instead of the prior 35-day window.
Articles about voting issues in Ohio.
Ohio: Early voting ruling can be appealed by state lawmakers, federal judge says | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Ohio lawmakers on Monday joined Secretary of State Jon Husted in appealing a federal court order that nullified legislation enacted earlier this year and restored cuts to early voting in Ohio. U.S. Southern District Court Judge Peter C. Economus on Thursday ordered Husted to set early voting hours during evenings and on six early voting days cut by Republican-backed legislation earlier this year, and allow county boards of election to set hours in addition to the statewide, uniform hours for the November general election. Under the Sept. 4 court order, early, in-person voting would begin in Ohio on Sept. 30 instead of Oct. 7. Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Monday jointly filed a motion to expedite their appeal in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Economus also instructed legislators to rewrite state law in accordance with his order.
Ohio cannot enforce a new state law for this election that reduced the number of days available for voters to cast absentee ballots by mail or in person, a federal judge ordered today. U.S. District Court Judge Peter C. Economus granted a preliminary injunction sought by the NAACP, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, and a group of African American ministers that effectively restores the full 35 days of early voting prior to the Nov. 4 general election. He found that the law is likely unconstitutional even though the state argued that its absentee voting options are more liberal than most states in the nation. His order requires Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, to add more evening voting hours and an additional Sunday to the hours he previously had set through a directive.
A federal judge blocked Republican-backed reductions in early voting opportunities in Ohio for the fall election today. U.S. District Court Judge Peter C. Economus granted a preliminary injunction against a GOP-backed bill that ended “Golden Week” — when people could register to vote and vote on the same day — and a February directive from Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted that lopped off some weekend and evening hours of early voting in some urban counties. Husted said he will appeal the ruling “because we can’t simultaneously treat people the same and differently. Today’s ruling kicks the door open to having different rules for voting in each of Ohio’s 88 counties, which is not fair and uniform and was not even acceptable to this court or the plaintiffs previously.”
A federal judge on Thursday blocked Ohio’s cuts to early voting and ordered the state to establish additional polling days before November’s elections, saying the reductions would disproportionately harm the poor and members of minority groups. The preliminary injunction issued by Judge Peter C. Economus was a setback for Gov. John R. Kasich, a Republican and vocal proponent of the measures, and could affect the upcoming elections in Ohio, a closely contested swing state. Judge Economus’s ruling directed Ohio to restore early voting during evenings and on at least two Sundays, and to reinstate Golden Week, the first week of early voting in which many African-American churches organize congregants to register and vote on the same day. Mr. Kasich and his supporters have said the measures were needed to reduce fraud, save money and create uniformity of practice across the state, and that the four-week early voting period allowed sufficient time for people to cast ballots. A spokesman for the state attorney general, Mike DeWine, said the state would review the ruling before deciding whether to appeal.
A group of conservative Ohio lawmakers thinks it’s time the legislature pass a bill under consideration that would require voters to show a valid driver’s license or state issued photo ID before they can cast a ballot. The leader of the Ohio Christian Alliance, Chris Long, is supporting lawmakers who have pulled a discharge petition to put an existing bill in the legislature up for vote. If the majority of lawmakers sign that petition, it could force the Ohio House and Senate leaders to let lawmakers in those chambers vote for it. The bill, which would require voters to show a driver’s license or government issued id before casting a ballot, has been stalled in a legislative committee and hasn’t been brought up for a vote by the general assembly. Long says the measure is needed to prevent voter fraud, even though Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted says there were only a little more than 2 thousandths of one percent of voter fraud cases in the 2012 election.
Libertarians in Ohio cried foul Tuesday after learning a Republican consultant and appointee of Gov. John Kasich was responsible for hiring the law firm whose challenge pushed two of their candidates off the statewide ballot. Terry Casey worked for Kasich’s 2010 campaign and the governor has since appointed him to the $70,000-a-year job chairing the state personnel review board. Casey’s role hiring Zeiger, Tigges & Little emerged in a case in which Libertarians are asking federal Judge Michael Watson to restore governor candidate Charlie Earl and attorney general candidate Steven Linnabary to November’s ballot. In a new court filing, the party also says Bradley Smith, hired to oversee the disqualification hearing by Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, didn’t disclose he was working for Ohio’s Republican attorney general, Mike DeWine, doing pro bono work at the time.
Several Republican lawmakers hope to force the House to vote on a bill requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls in the political swing state. Backers of the measure announced plans Tuesday to use a legislative maneuver to pull the bill from a committee, which hasn’t held hearings on it. The legislation was introduced almost a year ago. ”What is the problem that we cannot have photo ID required for voting in Ohio?” state Rep. Matt Lynch said at a news conference in Columbus. “Frankly, there should be no problem because we can’t get on an airplane — we can barely get into a public building — if we don’t have such an ID.” Lynch, a Geauga County Republican, joined three GOP lawmakers in signing a discharge petition to get the bill out of committee. The petition requires 50 signatures from representatives to force it to the House floor for a vote.
Cuyahoga County voters will decide in November whether to approve a charter amendment that county officials hope will provide them with more authority to file lawsuits to stop or overturn restrictions on voting rights. County council approved a measure to put the amendment on the ballot by an 8-3 vote, with council’s three Republicans dissenting. The measure was sponsored by Councilwoman Sunny Simon at the urging of county executive and Democratic governor candidate Ed FitzGerald. FitzGerald said Wednesday that the charter amendment would strengthen Cuyahoga County’s legal position should it need to sue over voting rules as several groups are now doing. He said attorneys in the county law department worry that a judge might not allow the county to sue because county boards of elections, and not county government, oversee voting. ”We’re anticipating legal arguments down the line,” FitzGerald said.
A federal judge in Ohio is weighing arguments over the impact of early-voting changes in the presidential battleground state, as civil rights groups and voting rights organizations seek to block recent restrictions from being in place this November. Ohioans vote absentee by mail or in person without giving any reason. The lawsuit before U.S. District Judge Peter Economus challenges two early-voting revisions. One is a directive this year from Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted that set uniform, early voting times that included restrictions on weekend and evening hours. The other is a bill passed by the GOP-led General Assembly in February that shortens the early voting window. Instead of 35 days, the period would typically be 29 or 28 days. The law gets rid of a so-called “golden week” when people could both register to vote and cast a ballot at the same time.