The state of Ohio, a key battleground state in this year’s presidential election, told a Sixth Circuit panel on Wednesday that it believes it has the right to purge from voter registration rolls anyone who hasn’t voted in consecutive federal elections and did not respond to inquiries about a change in their address, regardless of the reason.
A judge has rejected a lawsuit brought by voting rights groups that alleged Ohio’s process for purging election rolls is illegally removing eligible voters… Judge George Smith said Wednesday that Ohio’s procedures for maintaining voter registration rolls ensure the integrity of the election process.
While today’s ruling reaffirms that the process Ohio has used for over two decades is constitutional and in line with state and federal law, the best news is that we can put another wasteful lawsuit behind us and focus on the important work of running elections in Ohio.
Two rulings, one problem: Even voter fraud deniers acknowledge that absentee mail ballots are the most susceptible to fraud – in fact, it’s a standard rationale of the anti-voter ID crowd. But as states liberalize absentee voting rules and more voters utilize mail ballots, the Left fights any effort to balance that expanded ballot access with added ballot security procedures.
In Ohio, those added ballot security procedures included requiring voters to provide their correct name, birthdate, and other information used to verify identity and eligibility – a requirement that one of two federal judges deemed too onerous:
Under two laws passed in 2014, voters are required to accurately provide their names, addresses, birthdates, signatures and forms of ID when casting absentee or provisional ballots, otherwise they risk their votes not being counted…
In a June 7 decision, U.S. District [Judge] Algenon Marbley said the voting rules cause ballots from qualified voters to be rejected because of “mere technical mistakes,” in violation of their equal-protection rights… On May 24, U.S. District Judge Michael Watson came to the opposite conclusion and let the rules stand. Watson said the burden on voters was minimal and plaintiffs’ equal-protection claims failed, as did their attempt to show any discriminatory burden on African American voters.
Absentee mail ballots are more susceptible to voter error as well as fraud. For the increasing number of voters who choose the convenience of voting by mail over in-person voting, correctly filling in one’s own name, address, and birthdate seems a reasonable trade-off. But as “common sense and judicial rulings do not always coincide,” it remains to be seen how appeals on these ballot issues and the state’s “Golden Week” will be decided.
As it stands now, Ohio’s Golden Week will be back for this fall’s presidential election, unless and until the state prevails in its appeal to the 6th Circuit:
“We have to have standards. We can’t have this ‘Golden Week’ out there, where people from other states are coming into Ohio, registering and voting in the same day and essentially creating voter fraud because of the fact that they’re really not Ohioans – they’re voting and they shouldn’t be eligible to vote.”
A federal judge has blocked an Ohio law that requires “full and accurate completion of absentee- and provisional-ballot forms before otherwise qualified voters’ ballots could be counted.”
What information does the law require to be fully and accurately completed? Voters’ names, signatures, valid forms of ID, addresses, and birthdates – all used to verify absentee and provisional voters’ identities and registration, to ensure that eligible votes are counted and duplicate and fraudulent votes are not.
In trial and in court documents, the state’s attorneys cited election data that showed acceptance rates for such ballots improved after the laws were put in place in 2014. They said the laws help register unregistered voters and update voter registration information and have made more votes count.
Secretary of State Jon Husted plans to appeal this decision, as well as another federal judge’s decision blocking the state law that eliminated “Golden Week” and trimmed early voting from 35 to 28 days before an election.
“The sad reality is that much of Ohio’s election laws are no longer made by their elected representatives, but rather by unelected federal judges in response to politically-motivated lawsuits,” Husted said in a statement.
The Columbus Dispatch hopes for common sense from the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals after a District Court judge struck down the law eliminating Ohio’s Golden Week:
In 2014, citing the potential for fraudulent voting and the administrative headaches created by Golden Week, lawmakers shortened the early voting period to 28 days to eliminate simultaneous registration and voting. This resulted in several legal actions by those opposed to the change, and on May 24, Judge Michael H. Watson of U.S. District Court in Columbus ruled that elimination of same-day voting disproportionately burdened black voters, who previously had taken advantage of Golden Week at higher rates than other voters.
And so Ohio, which has one of the most generous voting systems in the nation — 28 days of early voting, in person or via mail-in ballot — finds itself accused of disenfranchising black voters, even though other states, such as New York, do not even allow same-day registration or no-excuse early voting. New Yorkers have one choice of when to vote: Election Day.
Judge Watson’s ruling is “a puzzling conflation of different areas of law,” and Ohio’s 2014 voter turnout belies his conclusion that eliminating Golden Week disadvantages black voters.
Voter fraud? What voter fraud?
“Rebecca Hammonds, 33, of East Liverpool is accused of creating false voter registration documents regarding 35 people in Columbiana County. Hammonds was indicted on 32 counts of false voter registration and three counts of false signatures.”
Several of the fraudulent registrations were submitted using the names of deceased people, but that’s no big deal because dead people can’t vote, right?
By margins as high as 57 percentage points, voters in three key swing states strongly favor voter ID laws.
A new Quinnipiac Poll shows big majorities of voters support “efforts to require voters to show a photo identification card to vote” in Florida (77% to 20%), Ohio (75% to 22%), and Pennsylvania (64% to 34%).
Voter registration fraud is “exactly why the state legislature enacted election integrity reforms and seemingly why Democrats are fighting so hard against them.”
The Washington Free Beacon reports on the link between Team Hillary and the Ohio community organizing group suspected of forging signatures and registering dead people to vote:
Marc Elias, an attorney at Perkins Coie who has become the go-to fixer for Democrats and is now general counsel for Clinton’s presidential campaign, became involved with the Ohio Organizing Collaborative this May when he filed a lawsuit on its behalf to challenge the state’s voter identification laws. Now the group is being investigated by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal investigation…
An advisory from Ohio Secretary of State Husted warns county boards of elections about “suspicious voter registration forms submitted by employees of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative” including “forms from persons who are deceased, voter registration forms with multiple names, address or identification mismatches, and voter registration update forms that appear to have been signed by someone other than the voter.”
Pro-pot legalization group ResponsibleOhio is also under investigation after the state received hundreds of voter fraud accusations related to the group’s Issue 3 campaign, including “signing up dead people, teenagers too young to vote and people who don’t appear to exist.”
Hamilton County Board of Elections is issuing subpoenas
The campaign to legalize marijuana in Ohio is under investigation for possible voter fraud because the names on petitions and registration forms included dead people, prisoners and voters who say they never filled out the form…
“Overzealous is a polite word for it,” said Tim Burke, chairman of the board of elections. “You can’t sign up dead people. You can’t sign for other people. That should never happen.”
Fellow board member Alex Triantafilou said he’ll push for criminal prosecution of anyone who committed fraud while gathering petitions or registering people to vote.
Secretary of State Husted says “the state has received almost 700 accusations of fraud related to the Issue 3 campaign,” from several counties, that include “signing up dead people, teenagers too young to vote and people who don’t appear to exist.”