In a pair of court decisions that could help Donald Trump, Ohioans’ voting rights were pared back Tuesday for the 2016 presidential election. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review an appeals court panel’s 2-1 ruling throwing out Golden Week, the period in which Ohioans could both register to vote and cast an early ballot. Several hours later a separate but equally divided panel of that same Cincinnati-based appellate court largely upheld restrictions enacted by the GOP-dominated legislature in 2014 and signed by Republican Gov. John Kasich. All that reshaped the Ohio electoral landscape to one less favorable to minority and Democratic voters — and thus presumably more to Trump’s liking.
“It is disappointing that partisan voting restrictions, which have been proven to disenfranchise minority voters, are being allowed to continue in Ohio,” said state Rep. Alicia Reece, D-Cincinnati, president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus.
Ohio Republican Chairman Matt Borges disputed that view, saying, “Despite misleading rhetoric from Democrats, all Ohioans have equal opportunities to vote under the law.”
Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California at Irvine, said, “I think that these rulings on the margins hurt Democrats, but I don’t think that’s the right way to look at these cases. I would ask: Do these laws significantly burden voters, and if they do, did the state offer good reasons for doing so? On that question, the results are a mixed bag.”