Federal Courts Versus Republican Efforts to Limit Voting: Ohio

Tuesday, September 04, 2012
Judge Peter Economus

Voter reform laws pushed through by Republicans have suffered a double setback in Ohio, where two separate court rulings went in favor of Democrats.


First, U.S. District Court Judge Peter C. Economus ruled a new state law unconstitutional that eliminated in-person early voting on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before the November 6 election. Democrats say that in 2008 about 93,000 Ohioans voted in the three days before Election Day, many of them as part of church-based get-out-the-vote campaigns in predominately black neighborhoods.


Under the law, only military personnel and Ohioans living overseas would have been allowed to vote early. Republicans claimed it was necessary to restrict access to early voting in order to curb voter fraud and that voting on the weekend and Monday interfered with preparations for Election Day.


Economus disagreed with the rationale. The Clinton-appointed judge wrote that all Ohioans have a constitutionally protected right to participate in elections on an equal basis. Republican Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said he will appeal the decision.


Meanwhile, another federal judge ordered Ohio officials to change rules for counting provisional ballots to ensure that more of them can be cast this November.


The ruling by U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley, appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1997, affects requirements for when a poll worker can reject a provisional ballot or disqualify ballots of registered voters who vote in the wrong precinct. According to rules used in the 2010 election, some voters had their votes disqualified even though the mistake was made by a poll worker, not by the voter. Much of the confusion arose because in urban areas multiple precincts sometimes vote at the same location. Again, this was most common in poorer, Democratic-leaning areas.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky


To Learn More:

Judge Reinstates Final-Weekend Voting (by Jackie Borchardt and Jeremy P. Kelley, Dayton Daily News)

Judge Restores 3 Early Voting Days in Ohio (by Kantele Franco, Associated Press)

Judge Orders Changes To Ohio Provisional Voting (by Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Associated Press)

Will Ohio Count Your Vote? (by Barry Horstman, Cincinnati Enquirer)


Jesmer 11 years ago
Hi John I like the blog. I found the Hitler / Mussolini parallel to the death iisgvtieatnon of Quaddafi pretty amusing. On the Gen Xer point above I heard another perspective. There is a book called The Age Curve which lays out the demographic changes in this country over the last century. Ken Gronbach (I think) is the author and a demographer we had him speak at a group I work with. He considers demographers more accurate than economists because economists make predictions based on assumptions and demographers count heads.One of the points of the book is that there are 12% fewer gen x'ers (born 1965-1985) than there were boomers (born 1945-1965). There were so many boomers they couldn't get jobs and they started businesses. Recruiting was intense and competitive (I can relate, born in '59). Some of the lazy rap given to gen xer's is not totally fair they came into a market with more jobs (thanks to the boomers, and a couple of bubbles) and there were fewer of them. If you consider some % of any population unemployable (or at least well below average) then when Xers came into the job market, this end of the population found work, often repeatedly. Might be worth a read. He also has some interesting perspectives on the long term effect of population management in China. MP

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