Ohio Early Voting Suit Settled, With Elimination of Significant “Golden Week”

This is a big deal, especially given that Democrats long took advantage of the “golden week” to both register and vote early at the same time.  Here are the two sides’ press releases:

Ohio SOS:

Husted Announces Agreement in Early Voting Lawsuit

 

COLUMBUS – Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted today released the following statement announcing a settlement agreement with the Ohio Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and other plaintiffs on their challenge to the state’s scheduled voting hours:

 

“One of my primary goals is to ensure uniformity in Ohio elections so that every voter in this state is treated equally and fairly. Today we are preserving that uniformity for all Ohio voters while maintaining ample opportunity to cast a ballot and participate in the democratic process.”

 

“This agreement is a victory for Ohio voters. With the issues that accompany the 2016 presidential election drawing nearer it is important that we resolve these lingering questions now. Ohio has been and will remain a state where it is easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

 

The elimination of the overlap week where individuals could register to vote and cast their ballot on the same day was maintained by the agreement as it was originally enacted by the 130th General Assembly through Senate Bill 238. The plaintiffs also agreed to drop any claim to attorneys’ fees or damages.

 

The settlement, which will dismiss the suit with prejudice, was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio’s Eastern Division today, marking the end of litigation in the Ohio NAACP v. Husted (Case No. 2:14-CV-404).

 

The primary election next month will not be impacted as the hours set by the settlement agreement will not go into effect until after the May 2015 election.

 ACLU:

Ohio voters will gain greater access to the ballot in a settlement announced today by the American Civil Liberties Union. The agreement with Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted stems from a federal lawsuit filed last year by the ACLU challenging Ohio’s attempt to slash early voting opportunities.

Under the agreement, Ohioans will be allowed to vote on multiple Sundays leading up to a presidential election, and their access to additional evening voting hours will be restored for all elections. The agreement takes effect after the May 2015 primary and continues through 2018.

Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said:

“Thousands of Ohioans rely on early voting opportunities as their only chance to cast a ballot in an election. This is a victory for all those who know that a healthy democracy depends on the participation of its people.”

Specifically, new early voting opportunities include:

  • For the upcoming presidential general election, an additional Sunday of voting will be included.
  • For the presidential primary election and general elections, there will be a week of expanded weekday evening hours from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • For regular municipal elections, primary elections and special elections, hours have been similarly expanded from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday hours have been expanded from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The ACLU filed the legal challenge on behalf of the Ohio Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and other African-American churches.

The complaint, NAACP v. Husted, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division.

The settlement is at: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/naacp-v-husted-settlement-agreement-…

More information is at: https://www.aclu.org/cases/voting-rights/naacp-v-husted

 

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