Three separate court rulings issued Wednesday and Thursday to uphold voting restrictions are likely to increase the number of voters disenfranchised this fall. In Ohio, likely the nation’s most important swing state, a federal judge on Wednesday upheld a controversial method for purging the voter rolls, which is likely to lead to eligible voters being removed. Around the same time, a federal judge based in Washington, D.C., approved — for now — a change to the federal voter registration form that will allow some red states to require proof of citizenship from people registering to vote. Then Thursday morning, Iowa’s Supreme Court ruled to maintain the state’s strict ban on voting by ex-felons.
The rapid-fire rulings come as concern mounts about access to the ballot in November. This will be the first presidential election in more than half a century without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. Numerous states have new voting restrictions in place for the first time.
The Ohio decision could have the biggest impact this fall. U.S. District Judge George Smith, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, green-lighted GOP Secretary of State Jon Husted’s practice of taking voters off the rolls if they haven’t voted in three straight federal elections, or any election in between. Mike Brickner, the executive director of the ACLU of Ohio, which brought the case, said his organization is considering whether to appeal.