Federal Appeals Court Upholds Decision Restoring Early Voting in Ohio
Saturday, 06 October 2012 10:08By Ian Millhiser, ThinkProgress | Report
A unanimous panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed a lower court’s decision striking down Ohio’s recent law limiting early voting. Although the panel divided on its reasoning, all three judges concluded that the law has serious constitutional deficiencies. The majority opinion was written by Judge Eric Clay, a Clinton appointee, and joined by Judge Joseph Hood, a George H.W. Bush appointee.
As the facts of this case demonstrated, cutting off early voting will endanger many voters’ ability to cast a vote:
Plaintiffs introduced extensive evidence that a significant number of Ohio voters will in fact be precluded from voting without the additional three days of in-person early voting. The district court credited statistical studies that estimated approximately 100,000 Ohio voters would choose to vote during the three-day period before Election Day, and that these voters are disproportionately “women, older, and of lower income and education attainment.” The district court concluded that the burden on Plaintiffs was “particularly high” because their members, supporters, and constituents represent a large percentage of those who participated in early voting in past elections. The State did not dispute the evidence presented by Plaintiffs, nor did it offer any evidence to contradict the district court’s findings of fact. Plaintiffs did not need to show that they were legally prohibited from voting, but only that “burdened voters have few alternate means of access to the ballot.”