Golden Week is gone again in Ohio. For the time being, at least. The controversial period in which Ohioans can both register to vote and cast an early ballot was struck down Tuesday by a federal appellate pane, overturning a lower-court ruling re-establishing Golden Week. “Proper deference to state legislative authority requires that Ohio’s election process be allowed to proceed unhindered by the federal courts,” said a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that split 2-1. Thus continues the ritual witnessed every presidential election year in bellwether Ohio: Bitter court battles over voting. Now Ohio Democrats who brought the lawsuit must decide whether to ask the full appeals court to consider Tuesday’s decision. That’s the most likely route to reversing the ruling, said nationally known elections expert Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California at Irvine.
Local election officials welcome the financial boost they are getting to help pay for early voting prior to the presidential election in November. Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin announced Wednesday his office is offering grants ranging from $250 to $1,500, depending on the electorate size of the municipality to help defray the cost of having weekend voting hours at the end of October. The 11-day early voting period includes one weekend, Oct. 29 and 30 which is optional, but several Berkshire city/town clerks plan to let registered voters cast ballots at least one of those days. “I think the grant will incentivize clerks to have voting on Saturday and I know it means I will be open [that] Saturday,” said Lenox Town Clerk Kerry Sullivan. “We are considering Saturday,” note Pittsfield City Clerk Jody Phillips. “Obviously we will be open during normal business hours.”
Editorials: Early-voting ruling eliminating Ohio’s ‘Golden Week’ is plain wrong | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Tuesday’s 2-1 ruling by a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, to uphold Ohio’s abolition of a “Golden Week” for voting, was ideological, narrow – and wrong. A federal appellate panel on Tuesday reversed a lower court’s decision and reinstated an Ohio law that shortened early voting in the state and eliminated the so-called “Golden Week” that allowed people to register and vote early at the same time. The decision, if it stands, lets Ohio cut what had been a 35-day early-voting period to 29 days. And reducing it to 29 days eliminates what had been a six-day Golden Week period during which Ohioans could both register to vote, then immediately vote early, in person or by returning an absentee ballot to their county’s Board of Elections. The Ohio Democratic Party has said it will appeal the ruling, and well it should.
A federal appeals court panel refused on Monday to delay a lower court ruling that outlawed a sheaf of restrictions on voting in Wisconsin, enacted by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature. The decision, by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, was seen as a significant victory for voting rights advocates. The ruling makes it likely that November’s state and federal balloting will follow earlier rules that allowed expanded early and weekend voting, among other changes. Judge James D. Peterson of Federal District Court had struck down parts of Wisconsin’s 2011 voter ID law and other election laws in July, ruling that the Legislature had crafted them to suppress voting by minorities and other traditionally Democratic constituencies.
Wisconsin: Appeals court allows new early voting hours to remain in place for now | Wisconsin State Journal
Extended early voting scheduled to begin next month in Madison is on for now under a ruling by an appeals court panel issued Monday. A three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request by the Wisconsin Department of Justice to put on hold during appeal a ruling by U.S. District Judge James Peterson that overturned several Republican changes to Wisconsin voting law, including one that limited early voting to the weekdays two weeks before an election between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Peterson’s ruling also limited early voting to one location per municipality, upped residency requirements from 10 to 28 days and prohibited the use of expired student IDs for purposes of proving one’s identity. Peterson stayed a different part of his ruling dealing with how the state issues free voter IDs.
With the presidential election less than three months away, millions of Americans will be navigating new requirements for voting – if they can vote at all – as their state leaders implement dozens of new restrictions that could make it more difficult to cast a ballot. Since the last presidential election in 2012, politicians in 20 states including Texas passed 37 different new voting requirements that they said were needed to prevent voter fraud, a News21 analysis found. More than a third of those changes require voters to show specified government-issued photo IDs at the polls or reduce the number of acceptable IDs required by pre-existing laws. In Texas, one such voter ID law has been ruled discriminatory by a federal appeals court; as a result, the state’s voters won’t have to show ID in the November general election. “We have two world views: the people that think voter fraud is rampant and the people who want to push the narrative that it’s hard to vote. The bottom line is neither is true,” said Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who has been sued several times over his state’s removal of some voters from the registration rolls, elimination of same-day registration and curbs to early voting. “I believe that both political parties are trying to push a narrative that suits their agenda.” Adding to the uncertainty for millions of voters nationally, not all the states’ changes may be in place for the November election. Some, like Texas’, were limited or overturned by court decisions still subject to appeal.
North Carolina: State Republican Party seeks ‘party line changes’ to limit early voting hours | News & Observer
The N.C. Republican Party encouraged GOP appointees to county elections boards to “make party line changes to early voting” by limiting the number of hours and keeping polling sites closed on Sundays. NCGOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse emailed the request to Republican county board members and other party members on Sunday. The News & Observer obtained copies of the emails through a public records request. County elections boards are developing new early voting schedules in response to a federal court ruling that threw out the state’s voter ID law. In addition to revoking North Carolina’s photo ID requirement, the ruling requires counties to offer 17 days of early voting. The voter ID law limited early voting to a 10-day period, but counties were required to offer at least the same number of voting hours as they did during the 2012 election. The court ruling eliminates that floor on hours – meaning that counties can legally provide fewer hours and fewer early voting sites than they did in the last presidential election. Early voting schedules must be approved by the three-member Board of Elections in each county. Because the state has a Republican governor, two of three members on each board are Republicans, while one is a Democrat – generally appointees recommended by their party’s leadership. “Our Republican Board members should feel empowered to make legal changes to early voting plans, that are supported by Republicans,” Woodhouse wrote in his email to board members. “Republicans can and should make party line changes to early voting.”
North Carolina: Have Republicans Found a Way to Reinstate Discriminatory Voting Rules? | The Atlantic
Bill Brian Jr. already sounded weary, and the meeting hadn’t even started. It was 5 p.m. Wednesday at the county office-building, and a typically sleepy meeting of the county board of elections had turned into a marquee event. Around 100 people had shown up to hear the three-person commission decide how early voting would work, and the board had already been forced to move the meeting to a much larger space. Brian, the board’s chair, mentioned the “flood of emails” he’d received, and announced that he’d allow citizens to speak briefly. “Please try to be civil,” he said with a sigh. Over the next 40 minutes, a long line of county residents—including veteran activists, operatives, and assorted gadflies—stood up and delivered their thoughts on early voting. There were students who wanted polling locations on campus. One man wanted a location nearer to the bus terminal. Another railed against opponents of voter ID rules, describing them as “racist” for believing that blacks would be less able or willing to navigate them. The chair of the county Republican Party rose to say he didn’t care how much early voting there was, but pleaded for an end to Sunday voting, which he saw as an affront to God. Several others were just as insistent about the need for polls to be open on the Sabbath; others pointed out that some denominations kept different Sabbaths.
Voters in the state’s liberal strongholds will be able to start early voting a month before what would have been allowed under a law that was recently struck down. Voters in Milwaukee and Madison may also be able to participate in early voting at multiple sites — a practice that hasn’t been allowed in the past. That would give local officials a chance to set up voting stations on college campuses, rather than requiring people to come to clerks’ offices to cast ballots early. The early voting plans could change, however, because an appeals court is now reviewing a federal judge’s decision that struck down a host of election laws. Madison will begin early voting Sept. 26, the city clerk’s office announced Thursday. The presidential election and other races will be decided Nov. 8. Before the judge’s ruling, early voting was slated to begin around the state Oct. 24, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
Editorials: Florida is running out of time to give all voters equal early voting | iara Torres-Spelliscy/Tampa Bay Times
Florida’s supervisors of elections are running out of time to provide equal access to voting to all Florida voters by offering a full two weeks of early in-person voting. The supervisors of elections across the state work year-round to ensure that the right to vote is a meaningful one for Floridians. They don’t get enough credit for being the backbone of our democracy. As the U.S. Supreme Court once said in Reynolds vs. Sims, “The right to exercise the franchise in a free and unimpaired manner is preservative of other basic civil and political rights.” Florida law grants supervisors of elections the discretion over how many days of early voting are offered in each county. This has resulted in a confusing patchwork of different early voting days, which can vary county to county, even among counties that are side by side.