Recently passed Ohio voting laws create new hurdles for minority voters casting absentee and provisional ballots, election rights advocates argued in an updated federal lawsuit filed Monday. The laws and similar orders by the state’s elections chief unconstitutionally permit absentee votes to be thrown out for ID errors, according to the lawsuit. Those mistakes could include putting down the wrong birth month on the absentee envelope even when a voter supplied the correct information when requesting the ballot, the lawsuit said. The laws also removed protection for voters casting provisional ballots by failing to provide the chance for voters to be notified of errors that could cause the ballot to be rejected, according to the lawsuit.
The changes in the laws adversely affect black and Hispanic voters since minority voters are more likely to cast absentee and provisional ballots, the lawsuit said.
As a result, the changes in the laws — approved by Republican lawmakers and signed by GOP Gov. John Kasich — targeted Democratic voters, according to the lawsuit.
The new procedure “will unlawfully disenfranchise thousands of Ohio voters who cast absentee or provisional ballots in upcoming elections — and who primarily are minority voters and/or voters who support the Democratic Party,” according to the lawsuit filed by the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, the Columbus Coalition for the Homeless and the Ohio Democratic Party.