Ohio2006 Blog

News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.

Thursday, October 26

Voter ID Temporarily Enjoined UPDATED

U.S. District Court Judge Algernon Marbley granted a temporary retraining order against the new voter ID requirements today, accepting plaintiffs' argument that the vague requirements of the law are being inconsistently applied by Ohio's 88 county board of elections. A hearing will be held next Wednesday, November 1st, on plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction that would carry the ban forward through election day. The state has indicated that today's order will be appealed.

UPDATE: Attorney general candidate State Sen. Marc Dann (D-Liberty Township) has issued a statement on the ruling:
Voter identification rules were implemented as part of House Bill 3 and were to be in effect for both absentee voting and voting on Election Day. The judge will issue a directive to all county board of elections offices ordering them to not destroy any absentee ballot, which has been received without proper voter identification. On November 1st, the judge will hear arguments in the case in a full hearing and will issue a ruling from the bench on whether or not voter identification will be in place for the November 7th general election.

“As Attorney General I will implement an Election Integrity office which will help ensure all eligible voters will be able to cast a ballot and make sure their vote is counted,” said Senator Dann. “Today’s decision shows that House Bill 3 requires a closer look. Ohioans deserve an election that is fair and follows the spirit of the Voting Rights Act.”
2nd UPDATE: I received a short note from Subodh Chandra, an attorney for the plaintiffs, very early this morning:
The judge agreed these particular i.d. laws have created total chaos as inconsistently applied and the right to vote is too precious to sacrifice this way.

It was a good day. We still need as many early and absentee-voting i.d. stories as possible for the Nov. 1 preliminary injunction hearing.
Coverage in this morning's Columbus Dispatch:
Thousands of Ohioans got a reprieve from having their absentee votes thrown out when a federal judge tonight halted state voter identification requirements.

But there was immediate confusion over what will happen next. Attorneys for the state were prepared to file an appeal even later tonight. But then came word that Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell did not want to challenge the ruling. However, in the past Attorney General Jim Petro has pursued appeals even when his client didn't want to if he believes he is defending a legitimate state law. ...

[N]umerous voters across the state are using the wrong number from their driver's license: the multi-digit one printed in bold immediately above their photo. The proper number is located on the left side of the card, between the address and birth date, under "license no." ...

Matthew Damschroder, Franklin County elections director, estimated that as many as 5,000 of the 100,000 absentee ballots expected to be submitted have ID problems and would not be counted

He couldn't immediately say how many had the wrong license number but noted that many of the 327 absentee ballots disqualified in the May primary had the improper one.

Michael Vu, Cuyahoga County elections director, estimated that "several hundred people" in the state's largest county have already returned absentee ballots with the wrong license number.

Vu said the Cuyahoga County officials were considering trying to contact voters to get the correct number. But Damschroder said the legal interpretation in Franklin County is that once an absentee ballot is mailed, it is just like a vote being cast and can't be altered. ...

"County boards are treating absentee voters differently," the judge said. "That's a patent violation of the equal protection clause" of the U.S. Constitution.


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