With the vocal support of GOP legislative leaders Wednesday, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted appealed the latest of two voting rights rulings against the state, blaming them for creating “ chaos and voter confusion.” “Unfortunately, in the time span of just two weeks, the integrity of our elections has been jeopardized as two federal judges have issued decisions that directly conflict with each other and put our elections process in limbo with no clear path forward absent a clear ruling from the appellate court,” Husted said. Democrats who won both court cases say if the Republicans want someone to blame for “chaos” in Ohio’s voting laws, they should look in the mirror. “Their handiwork continues to violate the Constitution — that’s where the chaos and confusion comes from,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “They’re just playing games at this point.”
The ruckus stems from a pair of U.S. District Court rulings that both deemed Ohio’s current voting setup as unconstitutional and a violation of the Voting Rights Act. First came one May 24 from Judge Michael H. Watson, an appointee of Republican President George W. Bush. Next came one Tuesday from Judge Algenon L. Marbley, an appointee of Democratic President Bill Clinton. Both cases are now before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
While many overarching themes of the two Columbus judges’ decisions are similar, they vary on a few details.
One conflict cited by Husted’s office involves a prohibition passed by the GOP-run legislature and signed by Gov. John Kasich on poll workers helping voters fill out provisional ballots, along with cutting the period for a voter to “cure” a faulty provisional ballot from 10 days to 7.