Tuesday’s 2-1 ruling by a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, to uphold Ohio’s abolition of a “Golden Week” for voting, was ideological, narrow – and wrong. A federal appellate panel on Tuesday reversed a lower court’s decision and reinstated an Ohio law that shortened early voting in the state and eliminated the so-called “Golden Week” that allowed people to register and vote early at the same time. The decision, if it stands, lets Ohio cut what had been a 35-day early-voting period to 29 days. And reducing it to 29 days eliminates what had been a six-day Golden Week period during which Ohioans could both register to vote, then immediately vote early, in person or by returning an absentee ballot to their county’s Board of Elections. The Ohio Democratic Party has said it will appeal the ruling, and well it should.
The circuit panel’s majority opinion, written by Judge David W. McKeague, and supported by Judge Richard A. Griffin, both appointees of President George W. Bush, stops just short of patent partisanship. But the opinion betrays impatience bordering on indifference to voting rights.
McKeague, for example, griped about purported attempts to entangle federal courts “in the minutiae” – minute details – “of state election processes.” Yet it was the U.S. Supreme Court that immersed itself in the “minutiae” of Florida’s “election processes” in 2000 to give Bush the presidency. Evidently, some supplicants are worthier than others when it comes to election procedures and voting rights.