Advocates for the homeless who have waged a multi-year legal battle to challenge Ohio’s provisional and absentee ballot rules are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up their case. The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, the Columbus Coalition for the Homeless and the Ohio Democratic Party filed its petition Friday. The groups say large groups of minority voters have been disenfranchised solely because of technical errors and omissions on voter ballot forms for absentee and provisional ballots. The petition says a federal appeals court in Atlanta has ruled differently than the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on whether private citizens can sue to enforce a certain provision of federal law pertaining to voting. The provision prohibits denying the right to vote based on missing or incorrect information on applications that do not prevent election workers from confirming a voter’s eligibility.
Both a federal judge and the 6th Circuit ruled that citizens, unlike the U.S. attorney general, do not have that right. Their rulings were based on existing circuit case law, the petition says.
The groups argued in their lawsuit that a pair of 2014 laws adding requirements for absentee and provisional ballots unfairly disenfranchised minority voters and unconstitutionally burdened the right to vote. The law required all fields on absentee ballot envelopes to be complete; previously, they only had to be “sufficient.”