Voting Blogs: You Can Lie in Ohio: Federal Court Strikes Down Ohio Law Banning False Political Speech | State of Elections

A federal judge in Cincinnati struck down an Ohio law which criminalizes intentionally lying in campaign ads or statements, on the books for decades in early September on First Amendment grounds. The state filed an appeal in October. The law in question makes it criminal to “[p]ost, publish, circulate, distribute, or otherwise disseminate a false statement concerning a candidate, either knowing the same to be false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not, if the statement is designed to promote the election, nomination, or defeat of the candidate,” and gives the Ohio Election Commission enforcement power. The case arose when former U.S. Representative Steve Driehaus filed a criminal complaint against anti-abortion advocacy group the Susan B. Anthony List for claiming that his support for President Obama’s healthcare plan meant he was in favor of tax-payer funded abortion. Driehaus is in fact pro-life. The Susan B. Anthony List then challenged the law’s constitutionality in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus.

Ohio: Supreme Court blocks early voting in Ohio | Cleveland Plain Dealer

The nation’s highest court on Monday granted an emergency plea from state officials to block a lower court’s order expanding statewide early voting days and times. The last-minute decision means early voting will not start Tuesday, but instead will be delayed one week. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Attorney General Mike DeWine asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse or delay the district court order restoring Golden Week, a week-long window when people could both register to vote and cast a ballot in Ohio, forcing Husted to add more early voting hours to the statewide schedule and allowing county boards of election to set additional hours. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, who oversees the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals where the case was appealed, referred the case to the full court, which voted 5-4 to grant the stay. The court issued its order without an opinion or explanation, noting the court’s liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Kagan would not have granted the stay. Justices Samuel Alito, John G. Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Anthony M. Kennedy voted to grant the stay.

Ohio: Husted wants Supreme Court to back Ohio’s early voting cuts | MSNBC

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: State goes to U.S. Supreme Court to stop expanded early voting | The Columbus Dispatch

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 order stands while appeal proceeds | Cleveland Plain Dealer

A federal court judge on Wednesday denied a request to stay his order restoring early voting cuts and allowing county boards of election to set additional hours while the state makes its appeal. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted are appealing the decision to the U.S. 6th District Court of Appeals and on Tuesday requested a stay to avoid confusion among county boards of election. “Changing election rules so far into the election cycle disrupts the electoral process and threatens its fairness,” DeWine and Husted argued in their request. “Any requirement that Secretary Husted issue a directive to county Boards of Elections, only to potentially issue a contravening order in a few weeks, would cause particular harm. Changing the days and hours now, only to have them potentially changed again in a few weeks, will create needless confusion that can be simply avoided by a stay of this Court’s Order pending appeal.”

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.

Ohio: Federal Judge Orders Ohio to Undo Cuts to Early Voting | New York Times

A federal judge on Thursday blocked Ohio’s cuts to early voting and ordered the state to establish additional polling days before November’s elections, saying the reductions would disproportionately harm the poor and members of minority groups. The preliminary injunction issued by Judge Peter C. Economus was a setback for Gov. John R. Kasich, a Republican and vocal proponent of the measures, and could affect the upcoming elections in Ohio, a closely contested swing state. Judge Economus’s ruling directed Ohio to restore early voting during evenings and on at least two Sundays, and to reinstate Golden Week, the first week of early voting in which many African-American churches organize congregants to register and vote on the same day. Mr. Kasich and his supporters have said the measures were needed to reduce fraud, save money and create uniformity of practice across the state, and that the four-week early voting period allowed sufficient time for people to cast ballots. A spokesman for the state attorney general, Mike DeWine, said the state would review the ruling before deciding whether to appeal.

Ohio: Libertarians protest Kasich ties to ballot decision | Associated Press

Libertarians in Ohio cried foul Tuesday after learning a Republican consultant and appointee of Gov. John Kasich was responsible for hiring the law firm whose challenge pushed two of their candidates off the statewide ballot. Terry Casey worked for Kasich’s 2010 campaign and the governor has since appointed him to the $70,000-a-year job chairing the state personnel review board. Casey’s role hiring Zeiger, Tigges & Little emerged in a case in which Libertarians are asking federal Judge Michael Watson to restore governor candidate Charlie Earl and attorney general candidate Steven Linnabary to November’s ballot. In a new court filing, the party also says Bradley Smith, hired to oversee the disqualification hearing by Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, didn’t disclose he was working for Ohio’s Republican attorney general, Mike DeWine, doing pro bono work at the time.

Ohio: Justice Dept. joins suit challenging Ohio election rules | The Columbus Dispatch

The U.S. Department of Justice made good today on its promise to intervene in Ohio elections, joining an existing lawsuit trying to restore more evening and weekend voting for Ohioans. The federal government filed a “statement of interest” in NAACP litigation against Secretary of State Jon Husted and Attorney General Mike DeWine. A separate filing today challenged changes in Wisconsin voting laws. “These filings are necessary to confront the pernicious measures in Wisconsin and Ohio that would impose significant barriers to the most basic right of our democracy,” said Attorney General Eric Holder in a release.

Ohio: Case before U.S. Supreme Court could decide whether states can criminalize campaign lies | Cleveland Plain Dealer

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear arguments on an Ohio law that criminalizes deliberate lies about political candidates in a high-profile case that could overturn campaign speech restrictions around the nation. The controversy over whether Ohio’s law violates free speech has forged unlikely allies of the abortion-rights American Civil Liberties Union and the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List. It has also pitted Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine against himself as he defends the law in his official capacity while criticizing the law in a separate court filing. Even political satirist P. J. O’Rourke has weighed in with a U.S. Supreme Court brief that claims “the law at issue undermines the First Amendment’s protection of the serious business of making politics funny. Laws like Ohio’s here, which criminalize ‘false’ speech, do not replace truthiness, satire and snark with high-minded ideas and ‘just the facts,’ ” it continues. “Instead, they chill speech such that spin becomes silence.” Violations of Ohio’s law against political lies are considered a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a penalty of up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Ohio: Attorney General’s office argues against boss in court case | Dayton Daily News

Ohio Solicitor Eric Murphy Wednesday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a lower court ruling that two independent organizations from Cincinnati failed to show they have been harmed by a state election law that prohibits making false statements with malice. In an unusual legal twist, Murphy finds himself on the opposite side of the same case with his boss, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who earlier this month filed a separate brief with the justices declaring that the Ohio law violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech. The justices in January agreed to accept the election law cases from Ohio, but it is unclear whether the court wants to rule on whether the law violates the Constitution instead of more narrowly concluding that the organizations could not demonstrate they faced prosecution.

Ohio: Voter Bill of Rights petition language approved, moves to Ballot Board for review | Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ohioans pushing to enshrine state voting laws into the Ohio Constitution moved one step closer to putting the issue on the November ballot. Attorney General Mike DeWine certified on Monday petition language to add a Voters Bill of Rights to the Ohio Constitution. DeWine rejected the initial language in February because two of the rights conflicted with federal election law. “Without passing upon the advisability of the approval or rejection of the measure to be referred,…I hereby certify that the summary is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed constitutional amendment,” DeWine stated in a letter to the petitioners. The Ohio Ballot Board will meet 9 a.m. Thursday in the Finan Finance Room of the Statehouse to determine whether the proposed amendment contains more than one amendment.

Ohio: State election law violates First Amendment, Dewine says | The Columbus Dispatch

In a highly unusual move, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine yesterday told the U.S. Supreme Court that the state’s election law banning candidates from making false statements with malice violates the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech. In legal papers filed with the justices, DeWine said the Ohio law has a “chilling” impact on the speech not only of candidates, but independent organizations wishing to advertise against a candidate. The attorney general contended that the law “polices not just ‘false’ speech, but speech that indisputably is protected under the First Amendment.” Normally, the state attorney general would defend a law approved by the legislature in his or her state. The justices are expected later this spring to hear two challenges — both from Cincinnati — to the Ohio law. They have been consolidated into one case.

Ohio: Proposed Voter Bill of Rights ballot item refiled | Cincinnati Enquirer

The group of African-American leaders pushing the inclusion of a Voters Bill of Rights in the Ohio Constitution has revised its amendment summary and submitted new signatures after Attorney General Mike DeWine rejected their initial attempt to get on the ballot. The Voters Bill of Rights would add items to the constitution that are controversial among some Republicans, such as preserving a 35-day early voting period, specifiying extended hours for early voting, allowing a voter to cast a provisional ballot anywhere in the correct county and moving toward online voter registration. Supporters say their effort is a reaction to several new laws that may make voting more difficult for some – in exchange for added security, fairness and efficiency, Republicans say.

Ohio: Voters’ Bill of Rights blocked in Ohio | MSNBC

Concerned about the coming wave of restrictive voting laws in their state, black Ohio leaders are working to get a “Voters’ Bill of Rights” on the ballot this fall. But the state’s top legal official, a Republican, is putting obstacles in their path. And some voting law experts suggest he’s twisting the law to do so. Ohio remains the single most pivotal state for presidential elections, so its rules for voting could well have major national implications come 2016. The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) wants a constitutional amendment that would declare voting “a fundamental right,” expand early voting, and make it harder to use challenges to disqualify ballots, among other measures. The effort is a response to an aggressive push by state Republican lawmakers to make voting more difficult. Bills that would cut early voting, end same-day registration, and make it harder to get an absentee ballot are likely to pass the GOP-controlled legislature in the coming weeks. There is no explicit right to vote in the U.S. Constitution—an omission some lawmakers want to fix.

Ohio: Attorney General Mike DeWine rejects petition for Voter’s Bill of Rights referendum |

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Thursday rejected a Democratic-backed petition for a statewide referendum on a Voters Bill of Rights, saying proponents’ summary language was misleading. Proponents of the proposed constitutional amendment, which include the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, say they plan to move quickly to submit new summary language along with another 1,000 signatures as a first step toward putting the measure on the November ballot. In a release, DeWine said the summary language, which would describe the proposed amendment to voters, ran afoul of federal law in two places.

Ohio: Voters Bill of Rights aims to end partisan interference with voting rights | Cleveland Plain Dealer

If proponents can gather the required 385,247 voter signatures, Ohioans this fall may be asked to add an Ohio Voters Bill of Rights to the state constitution. The amendment’s centerpiece is a declaration that voting is a fundamental right in Ohio. Legalese aside, that statement would make it much tougher for Statehouse partisans to try to mess with voting rights, especially the voting rights of black Ohioans, something some (not all) General Assembly Republicans have repeatedly tried to do. Procedurally, the wording of the proposal is now awaiting clearance from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. Then, after state Ballot Board review, the official committee calling for the measure, which includes two Greater Clevelanders, the Rev. Otis Moss Jr. and Rep. Vernon Sykes, an Akron Democrat, can begin seeking petition signatures from Ohio voters.

Ohio: GOP appeals election-law injunction | The Columbus Dispatch

Top Republican state officials are appealing a federal judge’s preliminary injunction against a GOP-backed law that would have made it more difficult for minor parties to get on the 2014 ballot. Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a notice of appeal with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday. On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Watson placed on hold the law, which would have blocked all minor parties from having a primary on May 6 and significantly raised the number of signatures needed for a minor-party candidate to reach the ballot.

Ohio: Husted appeals provisional ballot ruling |

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted on Friday appealed a federal judge’s ruling that Ohio must count provisional votes cast in the wrong location due to poll worker error so long as they are cast in the correct county. That “vote anywhere” approach, Husted argues, could be burdensome to poll workers and potentially create chaos at polling places throughout the state, viewed as a pivotal battleground between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

Ohio: Senate Democrats Demand Investigation Into Voter Fraud Group | City Beat

Ohio Senate Democrats sent a letter to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Wednesday asking them to investigate True the Vote (TTV), a Tea Party group established to combat alleged voter fraud. The Democrats claim TTV is unnecessarily intimidating voters. In the letter, the Democrats say they would find voter fraud to be a serious problem if it was happening, but they also note recent studies have found no evidence of widespread voter impersonation fraud. An Oct. 4 Government Accountability Office study could not document a single case of voter impersonation fraud. A similar study by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found a total of 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000. That’s less than one case a year.

Ohio: Courts have yet to resolve Ohio election fights | MSNBC

Last week, the Centralized Voter Registration system — a computer program that contains the names, addresses and party affiliation of all registered voters in the state — failed a stress test. Another test was conducted on Sunday and preliminary reports from the Secretary of the State’s office indicated that things went well. But the real test will come on Thursday when 100 registrars throughout the state will try to log onto the system at the same time and print out their voter lists or do other pre-election tasks. Mark Raymond, the state’s chief information officer, said last week that they were continuing to “fine tune” the system and believe that they would be able to ensure that the database is accessible in the lead-up to the Nov. 6 election. The deadline to register by mail is Oct. 23, but you can register in person until Oct. 30.

Ohio: Secretary of State appeals early voting ruling to U.S. Supreme Court | Hudson Hub Times

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether Ohio should open its early polls to all voters on the final three days before Election Day. Husted announced the move Oct. 9, several days after a federal appeals court sided with an earlier judge’s ruling allowing voting on Nov. 3, 4 and 5 — a decision he called “an unprecedented intrusion … into how states run elections. This ruling not only doesn’t make legal sense, it doesn’t make practical sense,” Husted said in a released statement. “The court is saying that all voters must be treated the same way under Ohio law but also grants Ohio’s 88 elections boards the authority to establish 88 different sets of rules. That means that one county may close down voting for the final weekend while a neighboring county may open one. How any court could consider this a remedy to an equal protection problem is stunning.”

Ohio: Secretary of State appeals early voting ruling to U.S. Supreme Court | Hudson Hub Times

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether Ohio should open its early polls to all voters on the final three days before Election Day. Husted announced the move Oct. 9, several days after a federal appeals court sided with an earlier judge’s ruling allowing voting on Nov. 3, 4 and 5 — a decision he called “an unprecedented intrusion … into how states run elections. This ruling not only doesn’t make legal sense, it doesn’t make practical sense,” Husted said in a released statement. “The court is saying that all voters must be treated the same way under Ohio law but also grants Ohio’s 88 elections boards the authority to establish 88 different sets of rules. That means that one county may close down voting for the final weekend while a neighboring county may open one. How any court could consider this a remedy to an equal protection problem is stunning.”

National: Republican Voter Laws Face Scrutiny As Obama Wins Mount | Bloomberg

With 39 days left before the U.S. presidential election, time is running out for judges to resolve voter access lawsuits in states including Ohio and Florida where a few thousand votes may be the margin of victory between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. A federal appeals court in Cincinnati is considering Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s bid to overturn rulings blocking Republican-sponsored restrictions on early voting and provisional ballots. In Pennsylvania, voters are waiting to hear whether courts will enforce laws requiring them to show photo identification at the polls. “The sooner these matters can be resolved the better,” Matt McClellan, spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, said in a telephone interview. “They’re in an expedited process and we hope they will be resolved well in advance of the election.”

Ohio: Obama Campaign Asks Court to Uphold Ohio Vote Ruling | Bloomberg

President Barack Obama’s campaign organization asked a U.S. appeals court to uphold a lower-court ruling that equalized Ohio’s number of early voting days leading up to the Nov. 6 national election. U.S. District Judge Peter Economus ruled Aug. 31 that all Ohio citizens must be allowed to cast pre-Election Day ballots through Nov. 5, agreeing with the Obama campaign and state and national Democratic parties that Ohio’s plan to grant three more early or absent voting days to residents in the armed forces or living overseas was unconstitutional. Economus last week rejected a request by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to delay enforcement of his decree until the federal appeals court in Cincinnati and then, potentially, the U.S. Supreme Court reviews the case. The Obama campaign told the appeals court in a Sept. 17 brief that ending early balloting on Nov. 2 for all except overseas residents and military personnel imposes a significant burden on the right to vote.

Ohio: Husted rescinds order against early-voting hours | Dayton Daily News

Secretary of State Jon Husted on Friday rescinded his directive forbidding Ohio counties to set their own voting hours for the weekend before the Nov. 6 election, pending a legal appeal. But Husted asked a federal court to issue a legal stay that would effectively accomplish the same thing. His court motion was the fourth development in eight days regarding “final-weekend” voting. *U.S. District Judge Peter Economus in Columbus ruled Aug. 31 that Ohio laws prohibiting final-weekend voting were unconstitutional, adding that he “anticipated” Husted would set a “specific, consistent schedule on those three days.” *Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine appealed the ruling, and Husted issued a directive prohibiting counties from setting their own hours while the appeal was pending, saying he was trying to prevent more confusing changes. *When the Obama campaign objected to that directive, Economus quickly set a hearing for next Thursday, demanding that Husted attend in person.

Ohio: Secretary of State rescinds order blocking early voting hours on three days leading to election day |

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted on Friday rescinded a directive that blocked boards of election from setting in-person early voting hours over the final three days leading up to Election Day. The Republican secretary’s decision was in response to a federal judge who this week ordered Husted to appear in his court on Sept. 13 because the directive appears to not adhere to a recent U.S. District Court ruling. On Aug. 30, Judge Peter C. Economus, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, ruled that a new state law – which would have shut down early voting after 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2, until the polls opened on Tuesday, Nov. 6 – is unconstitutional. His written opinion added: “This court anticipates that defendant Secretary of State will direct all Ohio elections boards to maintain a specific, consistent schedule on those three days.”

Ohio: State ordered to restore weekend early voting in judge’s ruling | The Washington Post

A federal judge ruled Friday that Ohio must allow in-person voting on the weekend before the presidential election, a victory for Democrats who claimed Republican efforts to close down early voting were aimed at discouraging voters most likely to support President Obama. The ruling is the second this week on Ohio voting. Ohio has allowed in-person voting the weekend before the election since 2005, and U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus said Friday that the state did not offer a convincing argument as to why it was changing the rules now. The change contained an exception for military voters, and the Obama campaign and Ohio Democrats said all voters should be allowed to vote on the weekend.

Ohio: Election law foes OK to resume repeal effort | Connecticut Post

Opponents of Ohio’s new election overhaul were cleared Thursday to proceed with their effort to ask voters to repeal the law, which makes changes such as moving the 2012 presidential primary from March to May in the traditional presidential swing state.

Fair Elections Ohio had wanted to challenge only parts of the law — not the primary switch — but hit a snag earlier this month when Attorney General Mike DeWine ruled against wording the group planned to use to collect signatures needed to make the ballot. Based on DeWine’s ruling, organizers resubmitted their phrasing to challenge the entire bill.

DeWine gave the group his approval on Thursday, and the state’s top elections official also said Fair Elections Ohio had the 1,000 valid signatures it needed to continue with its effort. Opponents must now gather roughly 231,000 signatures by Sept. 29 to get a referendum on the 2012 ballot.

Ohio: Election law foes fail hurdle in repeal effort | AP/21 News

Ohio’s attorney general has rejected language that opponents of the state’s new election law had wanted to use in their effort to have parts of the measure overturned.

The decision is a setback for opponents. They need Attorney General Mike DeWine’s approval before they can begin gathering the roughly 231,000 valid signatures needed by Sept. 29 to suspend the parts of the law until voters can decide in 2012 whether to keep or repeal them. DeWine said Monday the summary from the group Fair Elections Ohio did not describe the legislation accurately or fairly.