A federal judge, Peter Economus, has ruled that the State of Ohio violated the federal Voting Rights Act by limiting the hours and days for early voting. This was in response to the NAACP and League of Women Voters lawsuit when the state passed a law limiting early voting to 28 days and Secretary of State Jon Husted issued a directive limiting the hours for early voting. This means that Ohio will be allowed to have the one week period in which citizens can register and vote at the same time. The ruling said that these restrictions will disproportionately affect African American voters.
This is a powerful statement that the law as passed violated federal voting rights act of 1965. We will see if the state will appeal this decision. The US Justice Department supported expanded early voting hours. The ACLU were the legal team that took on this case. Here is their statement:
"Early voting opportunities are vital to Ohioans who have inflexible work schedules, childcare duties or other responsibilities that make it impossible to get to the Board of Elections during regular business hours," ACLU of Ohio Managing Attorney Freda Levenson said in a statement. "This ruling means voters will not see their access to the ballot compromised during the upcoming election. This is great news, and we look forward to the full trial and when these measures are fully struck down once and for all."
This is great, and we will adjust our plans to utilize Golden Week. Homeless people and low income move frequently. Why should they have to register one day and then come back a month later and vote? If they have moved during that time then there is a possibility that they will have to vote by provisional ballot. Why shouldn't we make voting as easy as possible? Why shouldn't we give the boards one month to review these Golden week ballots to make sure that they are valid before they are counted? Why shouldn't we allow those who work during the day the opportunity to come downtown and vote in the evening? Why shouldn't we respect those who do not like to vote by mail to come down and vote in person at a convenient time?
Updated: Ohio Secretary of State decided to appeal this decision to the Appeals Court. We have an extremely conservative US Appeals Court so this is going to be rough. Husted has maintained that this is treating all Ohioans equally. It is difficult to understand this logic. Since early in person voting has to be done in one location it is not equal to have one building in Cuyahoga County with 1.3 million people to small counties with only 24,000 total population. These limited hours harm bigger counties which traditionally have higher minority populations.
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