Monday, November 05, 2012

More Ohio election law ongoings

New York Times reporters Mark Landler and Michael Shear yesterday wrote, "President Obama and Mitt Romney hunted for last-minute support on Sunday in a frenetic sprint across battleground states, even as their parties faced off in the first of what could be a growing number of legal disputes over presidential ballots and how they are counted."

Among those players they noted "Republican election officials here in Ohio going to court this morning to defend an 11th-hour directive to local election officials that critics say could invalidate thousands of provisional ballots by forcing voters to attest to the type of identification they provide."

Last week, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed District Court Judge Algenon Marbley's recent decision that would have required Ohio to count provisional ballots cast in the wrong polling location so long as they were cast in the correct county, agreeing with Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Attorney General Mike DeWine in saying that District Court Algenon Marbley's expanded ruling improperly 'absolves voters of all responsibility' not only for voting in the correct precinct, but even for finding the right building.

Also last week, U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott refused to change an Ohio law that could prevent some prisoners from voting on Election Day, saying she will consider claims that the law is unconstitutional, but that she so far has not seen enough evidence to convince her that that is the case. "The court appreciates the importance of an individual's right to vote," Dlott was quoted by, "However, at this late date, so near in time to a presidential election, the court also is mindful of the importance of avoiding a rash decision, and overturning the law now could cause further confusion and violations of voters’ rights."

While dening a temporary restraining order to block enforcement of the law, she decided to allow the case to go forward after the election. No date has been set for the next hearing.

Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman Tim Burke meanwhile recently joked in yet another article that the possibility that Ohio could keep the nation waiting for weeks to learn who won Tuesday's presidential election was "really a plot to fill Ohio's hotels with lawyers." That, the article noted, "as with many jokes, has some basis in fact, as as Election Day approaches, the first wave of lawyers are already swarming over Ohio to prepare for the possibility that the election may be decided not just at the polls, but in court."

The Blog of Legal Times, finally,  had a posting Friday saying "that Representative John Conyers (D-Mich.), along with six other Democratic congressmen on the House Judiciary Committee had announced they would be continuing to investigate states that have enacted election procedures that could create discriminatory barriers to the ballot box, of which there are currently 37 states which have introduced voting changes that have been cited to negatively impact the right to vote for over five million Americans."

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