Those seeking expanded access to the ballot box won another victory this Friday with a federal court judge ruling that the local boards of election must be open the last three days before election day to vote. This was a lawsuit brought by Democrats, the Obama Presidential campaign and others who argued that it was unfair for active duty veterans to be able to vote in person on the last weekend while the rest of Ohio had to wait until election day to vote. Here are the key finding of the importance of in person voting as described by US District Judge Peter Economus:
“On balance, the right of Ohio voters to vote in person during the last three days prior to Election Day — a right previously conferred to all voters by the state — outweighs the state’s interest in setting the 6 p.m. Friday deadline,” Economus wrote. “The burden on Ohio voters’ right to participate in the national and statewide election is great, as evidenced by the statistical analysis offered by plaintiffs and not disputed by defendants.”
Judge Economus mocked the state's argument that it was put an unfair financial burdan on small counties. He threw Jon Husted's words back at him about creating uniformity in voting hours throughout the state. The Ohio Secretary of State only a few weeks ago had ordered all boards to be open the same hours for early voting.
The Plain Dealer editorialized that they would ask the Secretary of State to not appeal the provisional ballot ruling that they lost on Monday. The PD editors make a good case for why this is important and why the law does not make sense. The editors reported that the Ohio Secretary of State announced that he intended to appeal Judge Marbley's decision.
Bad idea. Husted instead ought to thank the judge for sparing Ohio another voting-related embarrassment -- and immediately issue a directive carrying out the court's order...But rejecting a legitimate ballot for such a minor mistake, especially when the voter is not to blame, is wrong. Case closed.
A federal court in DC ruled that the Texas law demanding identification at the polling place for voters would violate the Voting Rights Act and had a disproportionate impact on minority voters. This court recognized that getting the underlying documents (birth certificates) are sometimes difficult and expensive, and will cause a barrier to obtaining identification for low income voters.
Finally, the State of Ohio sent out requests for an absentee ballot by mail this week. For Cuyahoga County voters, we have had these applications sent to us for the last three major elections with the exception of the 2011 election. If you do not receive an application in the mail next week, you need to check with your local board of elections to assure that your registration is correct. If you registered after August 6, you will not get the application until October. You have until election day to get your absentee ballot to the main board of elections office for it to count.