COLUMBUS–Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted today filed a brief with the Supreme Court of United States in Ohio Democratic Party, et al. v. Husted, Case No. 16A223. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently issued a decision in this case, with the majority ruling in favor of upholding current Ohio law and previous cases and settlements, that Ohio’s early voting start date is constitutional. You can read Secretary Husted’s statement on the appellate court’s decision issued in August here.
In the brief filed today, Secretary Husted once again made the case for Ohio’s generous early voting period that, despite the misleading rhetoric, ensures all voters are treated equally. He is urging the court to deny plaintiffs request for a stay.
The following quotes are excerpts from the 50-page filing. The full brief is available here.
“While a stay is reserved for “‘extraordinary cases,’” the Court held that a decision enjoining the law was “extraordinary” enough to merit a stay for the 2014 election. Under the reduced schedule for that election with the law reinstated, African Americans and whites registered and voted at the statistically same rates. In a spirit of compromise after that election, Ohio then settled with the NAACP by adding another Sunday of voting to its already broad calendar. If the Sixth Circuit’s previous decision invalidating the Early-Voting Law (under a less expansive schedule) satisfied the relevant stay criteria, it makes no sense to suggest that the Sixth Circuit’s present decision upholding that law (under a more expansive schedule) also does so. The Court should deny a stay.” Defendants Brief, Page 1
“Ohio remains “a national leader when it comes to early voting opportunities.” By starting its voting schedule on the day after registration’s close (some 30 days before an election), the State offers the tenth-longest schedule in the nation. Many States, from New York to Kentucky, require voters to vote only on Election Day…In some respects, Ohio’s schedule even surpasses its schedule before the Early-Voting Law. For the 2016 presidential election, it will offer more nontraditional voting hours (on evenings and weekends) than it did for the 2012 presidential election.” Defendants Brief, Pages 1-2
“In 2014, Ohio passed the Early-Voting Law, which adopted the OAEO’s recommendation that voting begin on the day after registration’s close thirty days before the election. In 2014, the Sixth Circuit upheld a preliminary injunction against the law, but this Court stayed that injunction. The panel vacated its decision as moot. During the 2014 election with the Early-Voting Law’s changes, African Americans and whites registered and voted at the statistically same rates. NAACP then settled; Ohio added another Sunday of voting. After the settlement, Ohio’s 2016 calendar is more expansive than its 2014 calendar, and, as to weekend and evening hours, more expansive than even its 2012 calendar.” Defendants Brief, Page 8
“[A] stay risks voter confusion. This Court has rejected late judicially imposed changes to election laws because “[c]ourt orders affecting elections, especially conflicting orders, can themselves result in voter confusion and consequent incentive to remain away from the polls.” The Sixth Circuit’s judgment was widely reported as allowing Ohio to implement the Early-Voting Law for the 2016 election. A departure from that ruling could confuse voters now.” Defendants Brief, Pages 37-38
“The Democratic Parties claim that thousands of voters “relied on” the eliminated week, and these voters will “find it more difficult to vote.” But they could not identify a single person who would be unable to vote under Ohio’s broad schedule. And the only evidence on this point—a comparison of voting in 2010 and 2014—showed that those who voted in 2010 on a day that was later eliminated were just as likely to vote in 2014 as those who had voted in 2010 on a day not eliminated.” Defendants Brief, Page 38