The state of Ohio filed a federal court appeal on Thursday seeking to restore a Republican-backed limit on early voting and accelerated voter-registration measures that were seen by civil rights groups as boosting minority turnout.
U.S. District Judge Michael Watson in Columbus ruled on Tuesday that Ohio violated voters’ rights by reducing the period that ballots could be cast before an election to four weeks from five weeks.
Watson’s decision also struck down Ohio’s elimination of a seven-day window during which residents could both register to vote and cast their ballots all in the same week – a period known as “Golden Week.”
Ohio’s Republican-controlled legislature abolished “Golden Week” and shortened early voting by seven days in 2014, drawing a legal challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Watson sided with the ACLU and NAACP in finding that both changes, which critics said directly limited opportunities for minority participation in elections, violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and were unconstitutional.
On Thursday, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, petitioned the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review Watson’s decision, which he said scrapped a court-approved settlement the state previously reached with the ACLU and NAACP on early voting.
The settlement allowed voters to cast ballots on multiple Sundays leading up to a presidential election and provided for additional evening voting hours, according to ACLU documents.
Husted said Golden Week had become an administrative problem for state elections officials and increased the potential for voter fraud, arguing its elimination had broad bipartisan support.
The Ohio Democratic Party countered with a statement accusing Republican state officials of “defending a law that clear data showed imposed a stark discriminatory impact on Ohio’s African-American voters.”
The appeal came a day after the Ohio General Assembly passed legislation that would require any resident or organization to post a cash bond with a local court in order to keep polling stations open later than scheduled on election day.
Judges in Ohio have on occasion ordered some polls to extend their hours because of voting equipment problems, major traffic issues and severe weather, including during the 2016 primaries.
Opponents of the bill have said it violates the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which expressly prohibits the imposition of a “poll tax.”
(Reporting by Kim Palmer in Cleveland; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Peter Cooney)
‘Confusion, fear, distrust’: Shocking IG report details Trump administration’s ‘unprecedented’ COVID-19 failures
A newly released report from the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services paints a devastating portrait of the Trump administration's failures during the coronavirus pandemic.
NBC News reports that the HHS IG found that hospitals across the United States are lacking supplies as basic as thermometers, even as they're being undercut by their own federal government in trying to acquire new supplies.
Furious Morning Joe goes off on ‘reckless’ Trump in shouting tirade
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough went off on a shouting rant against President Donald Trump's bungled response to the coronavirus outbreak that has killed thousands and shut down the U.S. economy indefinitely.
The "Morning Joe" host lamented that Trump and his administration wasted crucial weeks of preparation that eroded any advantages the United States could have had in fighting the pandemic, and he said the president was still failing his test of leadership.
‘Smash-and-grab economics’: Trump White House weighing tax cut for rich investors as workers and small businesses struggle
The Trump administration was condemned for considering "rewarding vulture capitalists profiting off a crisis."
As desperate workers, the unemployed, and small businesses struggle to obtain benefits authorized under the multi-trillion-dollar coronavirus stimulus package President Donald Trump signed into law late last month, the White House is reportedly considering an additional slate of aid measures that critics say would disproportionately favor the wealthy while providing little relief for those most in need.