"This ruling will safeguard the vote for thousands of Ohioans during the midterm election," said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project. "If these cuts had been allowed to remain in place, many voters would have lost a critical opportunity to participate in our democratic process this November. This is a huge victory for Ohio voters and for all those who believe in protecting the integrity of our elections."
Today's ruling restores the first week of early voting, often referred to as "Golden Week," in which voters are able to register and cast a ballot on the same day. It also restores evening early voting, as well as multiple Sundays.
The ruling includes a temporary injunction on the Republican-enacted state law and on additional new restrictions on voting hours implemented by its Republican Sec. of State John Husted, finding the regulations are in violation of both the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment, as well as Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act which bars racially discriminatory voting laws in all 50 states.
It's true. This has been going on for years. State Republicans, whether in the form of the legislature or their Republican Sec. of State in Ohio, keep attempting to make it harder to vote, and the federal court keeps ruling those attempts to be in violation of federal law. It has happened over and over again over the past several years.
Berman notes, in regards to today's ruling, that "In 2012, 157,000 Ohioans cast ballots during early voting hours eliminated by the Ohio GOP" and that African-American voters in the state "voted early in person at a rate over twenty times greater than white voters," according to the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights.
The expansion of early voting in Ohio was implemented following the disastrous 2004 elections there when many voters --- largely in minority areas --- were forced to wait for 6 hours or more to cast a vote under restrictions implemented by then partisan Sec. of State and co-chair of Bush/Cheney '04 Inc., J. Kenneth Blackwell. The last ballot cast in the Buckeye State that year, when the state's electoral votes would determine the Presidency, was around 2am on Wednesday morning at Kenyon College, where some students had waited on line as much as 10 hours to vote.
The new GOP restrictions cut many of the additional voting opportunities instituted in 2005, which had otherwise led to a fairly smooth election under Democratic Sec. of State Jennifer Brunner in 2008, as she described to us during an exclusive interview in 2012.
Early Absentee voting numbers had doubled between 2004 and 2008 after the expansion of voting hours, as a quick glance at the numbers starkly demonstrates...