A federal court decision finding Ohio’s plentiful early voting days too restrictive could have ramifications for dozens of other states, attorneys defending Ohio law in a voting rights lawsuit warned in a brief filed Monday. The attorneys for the state noted in their brief to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that Ohio offers more voting opportunities than 41 states, including neighboring states Michigan and Kentucky and others where ballots can only be cast in-person on Election Day. “If Ohio’s rules are illegal, the 41 States’ less-generous options are also in trouble,” State Solicitor Eric E. Murphy wrote for the state.
Civil rights groups and several African-American churches sued state officials in May over a new state law eliminating “Golden Week,” a week-long window when people could both register to vote and cast a ballot in Ohio, and a statewide early, in-person voting schedule that did not include Sundays. Attorneys led by the American Civil Liberties Union successfully argued in U.S. Southern District Court that the reduced number of days burdened low-income and African-American Ohioans who are more likely to take advantage of Golden Week and Sunday voting.
U.S. District Court Judge Peter C. Economus ordered Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to set statewide, uniform hours for Golden Week and additional weekend and evening times, moving the first day of early, in-person voting from Oct. 7 to Sept. 30.