NEOCH and other groups representing low-income individuals and minority groups in Ohio have grown accustomed to filing lawsuits for discriminatory voting laws. Including the most recent update by the Ohio legislature which passed in February 2015 and took effect on June 1, 2015. The law disproportionately affects low-income people and minority voters. These people are much more likely to vote by absentee and provisional ballots. However, the new law removed protections to people who voted by absentee and provisional ballots. The new law does not allow voters to be notified when there is an issue with their absentee or provisional ballot. So, instead of these votes being counted, they are eventually thrown out when errors are not fixed. Yet, there is no way for voters to know there is even an error, unless they check themselves.
This current lawsuit relates back to a lawsuit against a similar 2006 law, which was settled by a court decree in 2008, 2010 and finally in 2012. The court decree governs Ohio’s provisional ballots and voter-identification requirements until 2016. On August 7th, the court declared that the interested parties can file the updated lawsuit as a Second Supplemental Complaint to the original lawsuit against the 2006 law. Going forward, NEOCH, along with the Columbus Coalition for the Homeless and the Ohio Democratic Party, hope to prove to the court that Ohio’s new voting law is unconstitutional and creates an undue burden on low-income, homeless, and minority groups.
by Brian Davis
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