Thousands of Ohioans got their voting rights restored for the 2016 election Wednesday night through a federal judge’s ruling. But Judge George C. Smith of U.S. District Court in Columbus acknowledged that his attempt to remedy what he said was Secretary of State Jon Husted’s illegal purging of many Ohioans from the state’s roll of eligible voters still will leave some eligible voters on the sidelines. “There is no dispute that the remedy ordered by this court will not involve the reinstatement of all voters who have been removed from the voter registration rolls,” Smith wrote in a 22-page decision on a lawsuit brought by the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, ACLU and Ohio Democratic Party against Husted. The two sides differed on how many Ohioans would be impacted by the ruling. A spokeswoman for the Democratic Party said potentially tens of thousands could be affected. A Husted spokesman said he doubted it would be that high.
Smith ordered Husted’s office to add 15 percent more provisional ballots to each polling place, while noting that figure was not a projection of how many additional voters would show up Nov. 8. “Today’s order is certainly a victory — albeit a partial one — for Ohio voters who were illegally purged by Secretary of State Jon Husted,” said Democratic Chairman David Pepper in a statement.
“The Ohio Democratic Party argued that all unlawfully purged voters should be restored, and the court is ordering Husted to fulfill much of what we sought for the 2016 general election.”
Husted’s prepared response: “Our main concern was to protect the integrity of the election by not having to reinstate deceased voters, those who moved out of state, or are otherwise ineligible. We will fully comply with the judge’s order to count votes of people who remain eligible in their original county and continue to focus on the important work of administering a smooth election.”