The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to restore a period of early voting in Ohio during which people could register and vote on the same day. The court’s brief order came in response to an emergency application from Democratic groups. There were no noted dissents. The case, Ohio Democratic Party v. Husted, No. 16A223, has its roots in the 2004 general election, when Ohio voters faced exceptionally long lines, leaving them, in the words of one court, “effectively disenfranchised.” In response, the state adopted a measure allowing in-person early voting in the 35 days before Election Day. As registration in the state closes 30 days before Election Day, the measure introduced a brief period, known as the Golden Week, in which voters could register and vote at the same time.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court decided not to reinstate Ohio’s “Golden Week,” a period in which Ohio residents could register to vote and cast their ballots on the same day. It’s just the latest in a string of contentious voting rights issues in the Buckeye State. The Golden Week came into effect after the 2004 presidential election, when excessively long lines on Election Day disenfranchised Ohio voters. As Mother Jones explained in 2005:
It turns out the Franklin County Board of Elections had reduced the number of voting machines in urban precincts — which held more African American voters and were likely to favor John Kerry — and increased the number of machines in white suburban precincts, which tended to favor the president. As a result, as many as 15,000 voters in Franklin County left without casting ballots, the Washington Post estimated.
In response, the state instituted, among other reforms, a 35-day early voting period. Since the last day to register to vote in Ohio came 30 days before the elections, voters had a five-day window where they could simultaneously register and vote before the general registration deadline.<
In a pair of court decisions that could help Donald Trump, Ohioans’ voting rights were pared back Tuesday for the 2016 presidential election. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review an appeals court panel’s 2-1 ruling throwing out Golden Week, the period in which Ohioans could both register to vote and cast an early ballot. Several hours later a separate but equally divided panel of that same Cincinnati-based appellate court largely upheld restrictions enacted by the GOP-dominated legislature in 2014 and signed by Republican Gov. John Kasich. All that reshaped the Ohio electoral landscape to one less favorable to minority and Democratic voters — and thus presumably more to Trump’s liking.
One of the most critical battleground states in the presidential election is home to three disputes over voting issues that could affect when voters can start casting ballots and how ballots will get counted this fall. Groups have challenged Ohio’s cut to early voting, its ballot procedures, and its process for removing voters from its registration rolls. Here’s a look at the lawsuits in Ohio: A dispute over a law that trims a week of early voting is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The state’s Democratic Party asked the court on Sept. 1. to suspend a ruling that would trim early voting opportunities. That lower court decision from last month upheld a law eliminating days in which people could register and vote at the same time, a period known as “golden week.”
Here’s the bottom line to the seeming never-ending fuss over Ohio’s voting laws: Democrats like looser voting restrictions because that generally means more Democratic votes. Republicans are just the opposite. That’s not to say each side doesn’t have honest concerns about issues ranging from voter fraud to access to the ballot box. But the shape of partisan battle lines over proposed changes to voting laws is one of the easiest to predict, both in Ohio and nationwide. What that means for voters is an ever-shifting set of rules as lawmakers enact changes followed by inevitable legal challenges, resulting in months of uncertainty that sometimes is not resolved until shortly before the election. For example: The GOP-run legislature and Republican Gov. John Kasich passed legislation to ban the so-called Golden Week, a period of five days before Election Day during which Ohioans could register to vote and cast an early ballot at the same time. A lower federal court threw out the change. An appeals court panel restored it. Now that decision has been appealed.
Ohio: Democrats to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate Golden Week in voting suit | Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Ohio Democratic Party will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate Golden Week voting for the November presidential election. The request will be part of an appeal to the Supreme Court in a lawsuit challenging the state’s attempt to shorten the early voting period to eliminate the week. Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper, in a phone interview Wednesday, said the appeal will be filed quickly, perhaps in a matter of days. “There’s just no reason not to allow the same process that’s been place for the last two cycles,” Pepper said. “The least harmful path is to give a stay and leave in place what was involved (for presidential elections) in ’08 and ’12.” The Ohio Democratic Party and Montgomery and Cuyahoga County Democratic parties are challenging changes in state law that reduced the early voting period from 35 days to 28 days. The reduction eliminated Golden Week, the only time people could register to vote at their elections board and then vote early in-person the same day.
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.
Editorials: Early-voting ruling eliminating Ohio’s ‘Golden Week’ is plain wrong | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Tuesday’s 2-1 ruling by a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, to uphold Ohio’s abolition of a “Golden Week” for voting, was ideological, narrow – and wrong. A federal appellate panel on Tuesday reversed a lower court’s decision and reinstated an Ohio law that shortened early voting in the state and eliminated the so-called “Golden Week” that allowed people to register and vote early at the same time. The decision, if it stands, lets Ohio cut what had been a 35-day early-voting period to 29 days. And reducing it to 29 days eliminates what had been a six-day Golden Week period during which Ohioans could both register to vote, then immediately vote early, in person or by returning an absentee ballot to their county’s Board of Elections. The Ohio Democratic Party has said it will appeal the ruling, and well it should.
Betsy Heer spent her birthday in November 2004 standing in a cold rain, waiting 10½ hours to vote. She’s runs a bed-and-breakfast in the tiny town of Gambier, Ohio. Many of the 1,300 people who joined her in line were students at Kenyon College. “So yeah, it was exhausting and it was exciting and it was frustrating and it was all those things. But it definitely was democracy in action.” And in nearly every election since, Heer has opted instead to vote early. The reason she can is an overhaul of Ohio’s early voting laws spurred by what one judge called the “disastrous” 2004 election. The changes helped make election days smooth. But they’ve also created cycle of laws and lawsuits that make courts in Ohio a big player in the national debate over voter access. “They know how to ski in Colorado, we know how to litigate elections in Ohio,” laughs Ned Foley, director of Ohio State University’s election-law program. He notes that the fights in Ohio include one that’s been dragging on for a decade. There are battles over rejected ballots and efforts to eliminate “Souls to the Polls” Sunday. Over purging voter rolls and eliminating same-day registration-and-voting.
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.”
With Ohio set to once again be a pivotal swing state this fall, the state’s Republicans are looking to restrict access to the voting booth—extending a sprawling battle over voting in the Buckeye State that has raged for more than a decade. A recent court ruling foiled the GOP’s bid to end same-day voter registration—for now. But a controversial new Republican-backed bill would make it harder to keep polls open late if unforeseen problems arise, as they have in the past. Meanwhile, the state’s top election official is being sued over a controversial purge of the voter rolls. And even a measure to let voters register online that has won GOP support is nonetheless causing controversy. The stakes in Ohio could hardly be higher. The state is shaping up to reprise its status as a crucial battleground in the presidential election this November. It also hosts a tight U.S. Senate race between incumbent GOP Sen. Rob Portman and Democratic former Gov. Ted Strickland that could help determine control of the chamber.
Ohio: State asks federal judge to delay reinstating ‘Golden Week’ allowing registration, voting | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Ohio has asked a federal judge in Columbus to hold off enforcing an order requiring the state to allow voting during Golden Week, when voters can both register to vote and cast an in-person absentee ballot. U.S. District Judge Michael Watson last week struck down a state law that eliminated Golden Week, ruling that the 2014 law violates both the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. That law shortened early voting from 35 days before an election to 28. Husted said then that the state would appeal the ruling.
A federal judge on Tuesday struck down a state law that eliminated “Golden Week,” several days when Ohio voters could both register to vote and cast a ballot. The 2014 law violates both the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson wrote in his opinion siding with Democrats who challenged the law. The state will appeal the ruling, a state attorney general spokesman said. If the ruling stands, Ohio voters will have 35 days to cast a ballot this November instead of 28 and will be able to register to vote and cast a ballot at the same time. In 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the law on behalf of the Ohio chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and League of Women Voters and several African-American churches. A federal district court judge struck down the law, but the state was granted a stay. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Statehouse Republicans argued that Ohio provides 28 days of absentee voting by mail and in-person, making it one of the most expansive voting systems in the country.
The state of Ohio filed a federal court appeal on Thursday seeking to restore a Republican-backed limit on early voting and accelerated voter-registration measures that were seen by civil rights groups as boosting minority turnout. U.S. District Judge Michael Watson in Columbus ruled on Tuesday that Ohio violated voters’ rights by reducing the period that ballots could be cast before an election to four weeks from five weeks. Watson’s decision also struck down Ohio’s elimination of a seven-day window during which residents could both register to vote and cast their ballots all in the same week – a period known as “Golden Week.”
It’s been a rough few week for voting-rights advocates, who have seen a judge reject a challenge to North Carolina’s strict voting law and seen Missouri legislators successfully place a ballot referendum that would amend the state constitution to require photo ID. But they got a win in Ohio today, where a judge in Columbus ruled that a recent law that eliminated a week in which citizens could both register and vote early was unconstitutional. Judge Michael Watson found that the change would disparately impact minority voters, and that the law violated both the 14th Amendment and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
A legal dispute over changes to voting rules in swing state Ohio is now in the hands of a federal judge. At issue are a series of Republican-backed revisions that Democrats allege disproportionately burden black voters and those who lean Democratic. The state’s Democratic Party is among the plaintiffs suing the state’s Republican elections chief over the policy changes. Those include the elimination of a week of early voting in which Ohioans could also register to vote, known as the “golden week.” Both sides filed their closing comments with the court Tuesday. They now await a ruling from U.S. District Judge Michael Watson.
Attorneys representing Ohio Democrats in a legal dispute over changes to the swing state’s voting laws said Monday that a federal judge should strike down the adjustments because their burden on voters outweighs any benefit to the state. But lawyers for the state claim the voting changes were minor and argue that Ohio offers many opportunities for its residents to vote. At issue in the case are a series of Republican-backed changes that Democrats allege disproportionately burden minority voters and those who lean Democratic. Among the policy changes was elimination of a week of early voting in which Ohioans also could register to vote, known as “golden week.” U.S. District Judge Michael Watson heard opening statements in the trial that began Monday and is expected to stretch into next week. The case is being tried before Watson instead of a jury. The case also challenges rules related to absentee and provisional ballots, and limitations to in-person, early voting locations. Democrats want Watson to block the policies from being enforced.
Voting rights advocates and Ohio’s top election official have settled a lawsuit over controversial cuts to the pivotal presidential state’s early voting period. The deal, announced Friday morning between Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, and the ACLU, undoes some but not all of the damage to voting access caused by last year’s cuts.…
Supreme Court rulings forced last-minute changes in state voting procedures for the midterm elections across the country, but the battle over voting rules is far from over. Courts are still hearing arguments over voter ID and early voting laws, legal challenges that could reshuffle voting rules again before 2016, when a presidential election will probably increase voter turnout and long lines at polls. “The cases are not over,” says Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California-Irvine and author of the Election Law Blog. “In a number of states, restrictions, which have been on hold or which were scheduled to be phased in, will be in effect. More states will pass new restrictive voting rules. And some states may pass rules making it easier to vote.”
• In Ohio, legislation shortened early voting and eliminated “Golden Week,” a time period in which voters could register and early-vote on the same day. The Supreme Court upheld the changes for the midterm election, but the case challenging the law must go to trial in federal court.
Early voting began Tuesday morning in Ohio after the U.S. Supreme Court stepped into a dispute over the schedule, pushing the start date back a week in the swing state. Voters will pick the next governor along with other statewide officeholders on Nov. 4. Residents also will decide a number of legislative races and the outcome of more than 1,600 local issues. Ohioans can cast an absentee ballot by mail or in person. The start of early voting had shifted amid a lawsuit over two election-related measures.
The ballots are printed, election workers trained and voting locations scouted. But with just a month to go before Election Day, the rules under which the midterms will be conducted remain in flux in four key states. The outcomes of legal challenges could determine just who is eligible to vote on Election Day — and, in states where Senate and gubernatorial races are nail-bitingly close, just who wins when the votes are counted. In Wisconsin, voting rights advocates have appealed to Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, seeking an injunction to halt the state’s voter identification measure. A federal district court in Texas is weighing whether to block a voter identification law after hearing arguments last week. Justices on the Arkansas Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday over the constitutionality of a similar law. And North Carolina officials are seeking an injunction from the U.S. Supreme Court after the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that the state must allow eligible residents to register and vote on the same day, and to cast provisional ballots if they show up at the wrong precinct.
This was supposed to be “Golden Week” in Ohio, a prime window one month from the midterm election when the state’s residents could both register to vote and cast their ballots at the same time. In theory, political participation doesn’t get much easier than that. Monday, however, the Supreme Court halted the start of the state’s early voting in another 5-4 order along ideological lines that civil rights advocates fear will harm minority and poor voters in particular. The decision is a win for Republican officials in Ohio who had moved to curtail the state’s early voting with a law passed in February. Civil-rights groups including the ACLU and the NAACP had sued the state to block the law, and the Supreme Court’s order on Monday sets aside a lower-court ruling in their favor. Now, as a result, voting in Ohio that was supposed to start today won’t begin until Oct. 7. And Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, reacting swiftly to the Supreme Court order, has also rolled back evening hours and a day of Sunday voting that had been required by the earlier court decision.
Jon Husted, Ohio’s Republican secretary of state, is going to the mat to impose cuts to early voting, and he’s asking the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on his behalf. His office is framing its fight for the cuts – which already been found to discriminate against blacks and Hispanics – as a matter of “protecting states’ rights.” Late Thursday, Husted and Attorney General Mike DeWine filed documents asking the nation’s highest court for an emergency stay to reverse a ruling by a federal appeals court panel on Wednesday. The decision earlier in the week upheld an injunction blocking the cuts from taking effect during this fall’s elections. Earlier on Thursday, Husted and DeWine filed a separate appeal for a rehearing of the case by the full appeals court. The cuts are being challenged by a coalition of civil and voting rights groups led by the ACLU. A full trial on the cuts is scheduled for next year.
Ohio: After losing early voting appeal; Secretary of State Jon Husted plans to petition full appeals court | Cleveland Plain Dealer
A federal appeals court on Wednesday affirmed a district court decision restoring early voting cuts and expanding early voting hours. The ruling from the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals is a setback for Secretary of State Jon Husted, who had appealed a lower court’s order that he expand early voting hours and move the first day of early voting from Oct. 7 to Sept. 30. The three-judge panel previously rejected a request to delay the court order pending Husted’s appeal. Husted then expanded statewide early, in-person voting hours while the case proceeded. Husted, in a statement released late Wednesday afternoon, said he will ask the full appeals court to overturn the panel’s ruling. “This case is about Ohioans’ right to vote for the public officials that make the rules and laws we live under, and yet, this ruling eliminates elected officials’ ability to do what we elected them to do,” Husted said. “That’s wrong and I must appeal this case.”
State officials went to the Supreme Court tonight in an attempt to halt expanded early voting now scheduled to begin Tuesday. “This is another step in protecting state’s rights,” said Matt McCllelan, spokesman for Secretary of State Jon Husted. The filing by the office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine comes on the heels of a request to the full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier today to overturn yesterday’s unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the 6th circuit upholding increased early voting. State officials contend that the panel’s ruling is “irreconcilable” with U.S. Supreme Court rulings and thus should be reversed. The request for an emergency delay of the ruling went to Supreme Court Justice Elana Kagan, who has jurisdiction over cases from the 6th circuit. The state is making two appeals at once to give the high court more time to consider the case, today’s filing said. The Supreme Court should step in “because similar suits are percolating throughout the country with conflicting outcomes.”
Ohio: Early voting lawsuit could cause problems in other states, state attorney warns | Cleveland Plain Dealer
A federal court decision finding Ohio’s plentiful early voting days too restrictive could have ramifications for dozens of other states, attorneys defending Ohio law in a voting rights lawsuit warned in a brief filed Monday. The attorneys for the state noted in their brief to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that Ohio offers more voting opportunities than 41 states, including neighboring states Michigan and Kentucky and others where ballots can only be cast in-person on Election Day. “If Ohio’s rules are illegal, the 41 States’ less-generous options are also in trouble,” State Solicitor Eric E. Murphy wrote for the state.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted says eliminating “Golden Week” is necessary to ensure only Ohioans are voting in state elections. While speaking with editors for Gannett Ohio on Friday, the Republican incumbent said eliminating days when people can register to vote and cast a ballot on the same day is critical to deterring people from other states from coming to Ohio and participating in its elections. Previously, Ohio allowed early voting 35 days before an election — giving people a five-day Golden Week in which they could register and cast a ballot on the same day. The Ohio Legislature reduced early voting to 28 days before an election, eliminating this time. However, this past week U.S. District Judge Peter Economus blocked that law and restored the 35-day voting schedule. State officials, including Husted, are appealing that decision.
Democrats in the Ohio Senate on Tuesday called for a minimum number of early voting hours in the swing state, along with the flexibility for local elections boards to make their own schedules. The proposed legislation follows a federal court ruling last week in a dispute over two measures limiting early voting. One measure, a directive from Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, established uniform early voting times and restricted weekend and evening hours. The other is a GOP-backed law that eliminates so-called golden week, when people could both register to vote and cast ballots. Without them, early voting would typically start 28 or 29 days before Election Day instead of the prior 35-day window.
Ohio: Early voting ruling can be appealed by state lawmakers, federal judge says | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Ohio lawmakers on Monday joined Secretary of State Jon Husted in appealing a federal court order that nullified legislation enacted earlier this year and restored cuts to early voting in Ohio. U.S. Southern District Court Judge Peter C. Economus on Thursday ordered Husted to set early voting hours during evenings and on six early voting days cut by Republican-backed legislation earlier this year, and allow county boards of election to set hours in addition to the statewide, uniform hours for the November general election. Under the Sept. 4 court order, early, in-person voting would begin in Ohio on Sept. 30 instead of Oct. 7. Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Monday jointly filed a motion to expedite their appeal in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Economus also instructed legislators to rewrite state law in accordance with his order.
A federal judge’s decision this morning to allow early voting in Ohio is a big victory for those who think voting should be easier and more accessible. It was also a remarkable decision in purely human terms, showing a deeply compassionate understanding of the lives of the low-income people who have been the most harmed by Republican efforts to put barriers around the ballot box. In February, Ohio Republicans passed a law cutting early voting from 35 to 28 days, and eliminating the week in which residents could register and vote at the same time, known as the “Golden Week.” In blocking that law today, federal District Judge Peter Economus described in detail the people “struggling on the margins of society” who have been the biggest users of early voting and the Golden Week since 2008.