With Ohio set to once again be a pivotal swing state this fall, the state’s Republicans are looking to restrict access to the voting booth—extending a sprawling battle over voting in the Buckeye State that has raged for more than a decade. A recent court ruling foiled the GOP’s bid to end same-day voter registration—for now. But a controversial new Republican-backed bill would make it harder to keep polls open late if unforeseen problems arise, as they have in the past. Meanwhile, the state’s top election official is being sued over a controversial purge of the voter rolls. And even a measure to let voters register online that has won GOP support is nonetheless causing controversy. The stakes in Ohio could hardly be higher. The state is shaping up to reprise its status as a crucial battleground in the presidential election this November. It also hosts a tight U.S. Senate race between incumbent GOP Sen. Rob Portman and Democratic former Gov. Ted Strickland that could help determine control of the chamber.
In the most high-profile recent development, a federal district court judge last week blocked a 2014 GOP-backed law that eliminated “Golden Week”—a six-day period when Buckeye State voters can register and vote early all in one trip to the polls. In 2012, around 80,000 people, disproportionately minorities, took advantage of Golden Week. The court ruled that scrapping Golden Week violated the Voting Rights Act’s ban on racial discrimination in voting.
Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted quickly appealed the ruling, suggesting Golden Week had allowed for illegal voting. “Out-of-state voters were illegally registering to vote and casting ballots during this time period,” Husted said in a statement. “Eliminating Golden Week reduced the growing potential for voter fraud.”
In 2013, Husted acknowledged that illegal voting of any kind represented just 0.02 percent of all registered voters, at most. But the ongoing fight over Golden Week is just one piece of a multi-year political and legal battle over voting hours in Ohio, with Democrats pushing to expand access and Republicans trying to limit it.
Full Article: In Ohio, battle rages over access to voting | MSNBC.