Thursday, November 01, 2012

Ohio Election Law Updated

The Cincinnati-based U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, in what could be the final major court ruling dealing with Ohio's electoral procedures prior to next Tuesday's presidential election, yesterday put a hold on a judge'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, this morning reported.

"The 6th Circuit agreed 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.

"Though voters must rely heavily on poll workers to direct them to the proper precinct in a multi-precinct voting place, they are not as dependent on poll workers to identify their correct polling place," the appeals court wrote in its 10-page PER CURIAM decision.

"... the harm to Ohio, the Secretary, and the general public caused by issuance of this injunction easily outweighs any potential harm to the plaintiffs if their view of the law is eventually determined to be correct. The injunction, it should be noted, both requires the expedited issuance of new instructions to poll workers less than two weeks before the election and refuses enforcement of a presumptively constitutional policy regarding voter eligibility. Ne. Coal. for the Homeless v. Blackwell, 467 F.3d 999, 1012 (6th Cir. 2006) ("There is . . . a strong public interest in permitting legitimate statutory processes to operate to preclude voting by those who are not entitled to vote."). Moreover, the inevitable result of the injunction's dramatic changes to Ohio's precinct voting system will be interference with orderly election administration and greater confusion among poll workers and voters. Early voting is already underway in Ohio. See "Voting Early in Person," Ohio Sec'y of State, . Changing election rules in this manner while voting is occurring disrupts the electoral process and threatens its fairness. These harms to the public and its elected government are significant ones..."

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