Voter advocates asked a federal judge yesterday to extend a court order that they say ensures that broad definitions of voter-identification requirements would remain in place in Ohio. Attorneys for the state’s top election official, Secretary of State Jon Husted, said he’s committed to the more-lenient voter-ID definitions, unless the legislature changes the law so the decree isn’t needed. At issue is whether an expiring 2010 court agreement that governs provisional ballots and forms of voter ID in Ohio should continue.
An attorney for homeless voters told the federal court in Columbus that without the decree, the state would return to a system in which county election boards could apply vague standards unequally and unfairly to legitimate voters.
Cleveland lawyer Subodh Chandra told U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley that his clients would like the decree to continue indefinitely, or at least until 2021, which could allow state legislators to put into law the broad ID definitions.
The debate over the federal court agreement dates to 2006, when a state law laid out the requirements for when provisional ballots are counted. A 2006 lawsuit challenged the state law, and in 2010 then-Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, entered into a federal consent decree that was more open regarding provisional ballots and identification requirements.