A federal judge has ruled Ohio’s system of verifying signatures on absentee ballot applications is not burdensome enough to be struck down as illegal, rejecting arguments made by a coalition of voting-rights groups that sued the state.
U.S. District Judge Michael Watson wrote that while Ohio’s signature-matching requirements impose a “moderate” burden on voters, they have other options to cast a ballot if their vote is improperly rejected, including casting a provisional ballot on Election Day. He agreed with Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose that the state has a legitimate interest in promoting an orderly and secure election, justifying that burden.
“Additionally, the Court believes that changing the rules regarding verification of signatures on ballots at this time would be particularly damaging,” Watson, a President George W. Bush appointee, wrote in an order issued Sunday evening that rejected the voting-rights activists’ request to issue what’s called a preliminary injunction. “Some public officials have unfortunately regularly cast doubt on the security and legitimacy of voting by mail. A federal court enjoining part of the State’s procedure for maintaining the security of mail-in voting in the weeks leading up to the election could further undermine public confidence in elections.”