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Local Legal News: Voting Issues

Two issues involving Ohio voting laws are before the courts. One involves the counting of provisional ballots with errors caused by poll workers. The second deals with the constitutionality of amendments to ORC §3509.03, which eliminated voting on the (weekend spanning) three days before Election Day, for non-military voters.

I

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio ruled that the recent amendments to ORC §3509.03, which eliminate in-person voting the three days before Election Day, are unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. District Judge Economus, in Obama for America v. Husted, No. 2:12-CV-0636 (Aug. 31, 2012) (link opinion on Election Law Blog) granted a preliminary injunction disallowing the implementation of these amendments and the court “anticipates” that the Secretary of Sate will so direct the election boards. In  Directive 2012-40 Re: Obama Decision: Voting Hours Secretary of State Husted stated that he will appeal this decision and will not be announcing new in-person voting hours until the appeal process is concluded. According to a news report, a notice of appeal was filed yesterday.

Cleveland.com: Judge overturns Ohio law, restores in-person early voting in 3 days leading to Election Day and Ohio attorney general says he will appeal federal ruling that restores in-person early voting on eve of Election Day

Election Law Blog: Breaking News: Federal Judge Orders Ohio to Restore Weekend Early Voting in Ohio Weekend Before Election Day

Bloomberg: Ohio Says It Will Appeal Rulin On Early-Voter Limits

II

Judge Alegonon L. Marbley, United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, determined that Service Employees International Union, Local 1 et al. v. Husted, No. 2:12-CV-562 (August 27, 2012) (link opinion on Election Law Blog) restricted Ohio’s county boards of election rules for rejecting provisional ballots. Restrictions were placed on rejecting provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct and with certain voter identification deficiencies. The court further ordered that the Ohio Secretary of State issue a Directive about these restrictions within ten business days; no Directive has been posted on the Secretary of State’s site as of September 5, 11:00. The Secretary of State’s spokeperson indicated they are considering appealing the decision.

Cleveland.com: Provisional ballots must be counted in Ohio regardless of poll worker error, federal judge rules

Election Law Blog: Breaking News: Federal Court Orders Ohio to Accept Provisional Ballots Cast in the Wrong Precinct Because of Poll Worker Error