Supreme Court blocks expansion of Ohio early voting

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Monday staying the order of a district court preventing various cutbacks in early voting (including a cutback from 35 to 28 days, and elimination of one of the two early voting days on a Sunday, a day African-American churches had been using for “Souls to the Polls” voter drives.

Note that this ruling will not eliminate early voting. Ohio will still have one of the most liberal early voting rules in the country. But state officials argued that the increase in voting days would place a burden on local election boards. A very liberal judge in district court disagreed and ordered the expansion, which the Supreme Court has mostly cut back to where it was.

Election Law Blog:

That the Court divided 5-4 along liberal conservative lines is no surprise.  As I wrote this morning in Slate of the various election voting wars cases making their way up the the Supreme Court, “For the most part, it has been Democratic and more liberal judges who have issued opinions reading voting rights protection broadly, and it has been Republican and more conservative judges who have issued opinions reading the protections narrowly. There is every reason to expect the same pattern at the Supreme Court, with a 5–4 conservative-liberal split on these questions.”

And while the Court did not offer a reason for its order today, it is very likely that the conservative Supreme Court majority did not believe in the very expansive views of equal protection and section 2 of the Voting Rights Act endorsed by the very liberal district court judge and 6th Circuit panel below.

I think it was a mistake to bring this Ohio case. I am not convinced that it is a significant burden on voters to cut back a week off early voting including the last Sunday. Really, if 28 days is too little early voting, what does this say about New York, with NO period of early voting?  I do not buy the “context” argument about Ohio in part because these cutbacks are so minor.

I am worried this case will make bad law, and have bad effects in cases such as challenges to Wisconsin’s voter id law, Texas’s voter id law, and North Carolina’s omnibus bill making it harder to vote. I have argued that when there is a significant burden on voters imposed for no good reason, or imposed for a partisan reason, then courts should shut down voting restrictions. The Ohio case did not involve significant burdens, and the theories accepted by the district court and 6th Circuit panel were vast constitutional expansions of voting rights. As Ned Foley reminded us, not everything that is good policy is constitutionally required.

Liberals, of course, are crying racism. Twenty eight days extra to vote just isn't enough time for black Americans to get to the polls. Reducing the early voting period from 5 weeks to 4 is a conservative plot to keep the black man down.

And the infantilization of black Americans by the left continues.

Early voting that encompasses a week, 10 days, even two weeks before election day probably helps prevent fraud because it means fewer absentee ballots - a prime area for the fraudsters to exploit. But 35 days is ridiculous. The Supreme Court ruled correctly.



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