Golden Week is gone again in Ohio. For the time being, at least. The controversial period in which Ohioans can both register to vote and cast an early ballot was struck down Tuesday by a federal appellate pane, overturning a lower-court ruling re-establishing Golden Week. “Proper deference to state legislative authority requires that Ohio’s election process be allowed to proceed unhindered by the federal courts,” said a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that split 2-1. Thus continues the ritual witnessed every presidential election year in bellwether Ohio: Bitter court battles over voting. Now Ohio Democrats who brought the lawsuit must decide whether to ask the full appeals court to consider Tuesday’s decision. That’s the most likely route to reversing the ruling, said nationally known elections expert Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California at Irvine.
While the party could now appeal directly to the short-handed U.S. Supreme Court, Hasen said with the justices split ideologically 4-4, “it is hard to imagine any of the conservative judges agreeing with the Democrats.” A tie means the appeals court ruling stands.
The party is still considering its next move. Chairman David Pepper called Golden Week “a popular and cherished feature of our elections for a decade and has allowed tens of thousands of Ohioans to safely and conveniently cast a ballot.”