In Ohio, Secretary of State Jon Husted likes to say, it is easy to vote and hard to cheat. But Ohio’s voting laws — like several others throughout the country — are being put to a test with legal challenges that strike at a bedrock of American democracy: free and fair elections. On Thursday the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati heard arguments on a federal lawsuit filed by civil rights groups seeking to invalidate two voter laws passed by the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature in 2014. The laws, both addressing absentee voting, make it difficult for some voters — particularly African-Americans and low-income Ohioans who tend to favor Democrats — to cast ballots, according to attorney Subodh Chandra. “The pattern is unmistakable, and the result is unconstitutional,” said Chandra, a former federal prosecutor.
But liberal groups aren’t the only ones calling out Ohio’s election process. In Columbus last week Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said he believes the November election will be “rigged” in favor of Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s Columbus remark, which he repeated a day later in Virginia, seemed aimed at recent court decisions in swing states like North Carolina and Wisconsin, where separate courts struck down provisions of their voter identification laws.
But the inference that Ohio’s election process is less than pure angered Husted, a Republican who oversees elections in Ohio. “That does not help this cause and it doesn’t help the cause of democracy to say things like that,” Husted said of Trump. He added: “I’m not just going to beat up on him because it comes from the other side too, when Democrats run out there and say people are being disenfranchised, that’s equally irresponsible.”