Ohio2006 Blog

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Tuesday, August 29

Secty State: Brunner (D) Hails Federal Lawsuit Challenging Naturalization Papers Requirement Under HB3

Secretary of State candidate Jennifer Brunner (D-Columbus) is hailing a lawsuit filed today in federal court in Cleveland, challenging the constitutionality of the part of House Bill 3 that requires naturalized citizens to show proof of citizenship when challenged at the polls. The attorney handling the lawsuit is Subodh Chandra, former Cleveland law director and a primary candidate for attorney general. It has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Christopher Boyko.

From Brunner's press release:
Under H.B. 3, naturalized citizens can be challenged before the election by any registered voter of Ohio or at the polls by poll workers and be required to show their naturalization papers. A passport or other photo ID won't be good enough to permit them to vote. If these challenged voters don't have their citizenship papers (which are costly and time consuming to replace if misplaced or lost), naturalized citizens must vote a provisional ballot. That ballot won't be counted unless these U.S. citizens return to the board of elections within 10 days after the election and show their citizenship papers.

The suit charges that H.B. 3 does not treat naturalized citizens the same as citizens born in the U.S., noting that, under the U.S. Constitution, there must be a rational basis for classifying groups of citizens and treating them differently. The suit charges that there is no rational basis for the distinctions made in the law, violating the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution.

"This challenge to H.B. 3 is a welcome sign that people in Ohio understand that their rights to vote are being tread upon by a Republican administration that is out of touch with Ohio citizens. We can protect the integrity of our election system without taking away people's rights to equal treatment under the law. Anything short of that is just plain un-American," said Brunner.
House Bill 3 was a drastic overhaul of Ohio election law, ostensibly in the name of reform, that imposed burdensome requirements such as requiring voters to show identification to register and to vote, requiring voter registrars to undergo online training before they can register voters, requiring persons registering voters to turn in their own registration forms under felony penalty, and allowing the board of elections to delay a hearing on a voter challenge until after the election, forcing the voter to vote a provisional ballot.

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