For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Joshua Eck
COLUMBUS – Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted today filed an opening brief as part of the appeals process in Ohio Democratic Party, et al. v. Husted, Case No. 2:16-cv-1802. The case, which received an initial ruling from Federal Judge Michael Watson on May 24, 2016 overturned a law passed by the Ohio General Assembly to shorten the state’s absentee voting period from 35 to 29 days. The appeal is before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
In the brief, Secretary Husted noted that Ohio’s early voting period is one of the most generous in the nation and, despite the misleading rhetoric, ensures all voters are treated equally.
The following quotes are excerpts from the 62-page filing. The full brief is available here.
“Ohio is a national leader in making voting easy. It permits absentee voting beginning 29 days before an election. This is the tenth longest period in the country…Thirteen States, including New York, Michigan, and Kentucky, require voters to vote only on Election Day.”
Defendants Brief, Pages 1-2
“Absentee voting has always been “a privilege.”…Only if the State “absolutely prohibits” a voter from voting on Election Day could an absentee-ballot denial burden protected rights…Yet the Democratic Parties did not identify a single person whom Ohio absolutely prohibits from voting.”
Defendants Brief, Page 23-24
“Ohio requires all voters to register 30 days before the election…It allows all voters to vote absentee over a 29-day period… And it gives all voters thirteen hours to vote on election day.
Defendants Brief, Page 24
“Today, burdens in Ohio are minimal when compared to the rest of the country. As the district court noted, “Ohio’s national leadership in voting opportunities is to be commended.”…Ohio remains in the top ten States for the most early-voting hours.”
Defendants Brief, Page 26
“Ohio should be lauded, not sued, for its ‘bold experiment in democracy.’”
Defendants Brief, Page 27
“In short, Ohio must balance competing concerns. Reasonable people could disagree on whether it should add an extra day here or drop an extra one there, but ‘[t]he role of this court is not to impose [its] own idea of democracy upon the Ohio state legislature.’”
Defendants Brief, Page 31
“While Ohio’s early-voting options do not burden voting rights, that does not relieve the Early-Voting Law of constitutional scrutiny. Any voting law, no matter how minor, would violate equal protection if its changes disparately affected African Americans and arose from a discriminatory intent…But the Democratic Parties ‘failed to show a discriminatory purpose.’”
Defendants Brief, Page 31
“When measuring a burden, courts do not analyze a change in a vacuum…Thus, the question here is not whether a change from a 35-day period to a 29-day period disparately affects African Americans; it is whether a start to voting 29 days before an election (rather than on Election Day itself) does so. Yet, in 2014, African Americans and Whites registered and voted at the statistically same rates…Ohio’s current system has no disparate impact.”
Defendants Brief, Page 33
“Even assuming African Americans use early voting more than others, Ohio’s expansive options benefit African Americans compared to most benchmarks. A few examples illustrate the point. Overall, Ohio’s schedule would beat 41 other States’ schedules in terms of hours…Or maybe the comparison should be with the median schedule? Here, too, Ohio’s is more expansive than those 14 days.”
Defendants Brief, Page 47
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