The attempts by Republican lawmakers to suppress the turnout of Democratic-leaning voters in the 2016 election have reached shameless levels in Ohio — a swing state where it turns out that even homeless citizens have been blocked from exercising their right to vote. Thanks to a timely ruling last week from a federal district judge, Algenon Marbley, the obstacles to minorities at the polling booth come November may be less formidable than they might have been, though the state plans to appeal and problems remain. The judge struck down a 2014 Republican-sponsored state law that, among other things, required that absentee ballots be thrown out for essentially trivial mistakes. This, the judge ruled, discriminated against minority voters in violation of the Voting Rights Act, including homeless people disqualified for not providing precise addresses. Other changes in the 2014 law shortened the period during which voters could correct such errors and barred election clerks from helping someone confused by the forms, unless the voter was physically disabled.
Judge Marbley said the law constituted a retreat from improvements in voting procedures enacted in 2004 and called it part of a disturbing “flurry” of voting rights limitations enacted by the Republican Legislature and Gov. John Kasich in recent years, “which sought to limit the precious right to the franchise in some manner.”
Last month, a different federal judge ruled unconstitutional another Ohio law that cut back early voting opportunities for citizens. Furious statehouse Republicans have denied any scheme to suppress Democratic voters, and Ohio’s secretary of state, Jon Husted, arguing that the decisions will produce “chaos,” said the state will appeal.
Full Article: Down and Out and Voteless in Ohio – The New York Times.