Commentary & Opinion
Briefing is now in the U.S. Supreme Court on Ohio’s emergency motion to stay the district court injunction restoring the rules regarding same day registration and early voting that existed before legislation enacted earlier this year (SB 238). In a previous post, I explained why the district court and Sixth Circuit panel’s rulings were faithful applications of legal precedent requiring close attention to the context in which restrictions on voting are enacted. This post explains why it would be unwise and disruptive for the Supreme Court to change the rules now – now literally on the eve of an election -- responding to comments that my colleague Ned Foley posted yesterday.
Some thoughts on the legal issues involved.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday upheld the district court’s ruling in in NAACP v. Husted, which stopped new restrictions on early voting from taking effect. This decision is good news for Ohio voters. It faithfully applies existing law to the evidence admitted in the district court, maintaining the established period for same day registration and early voting. The federal courts have done their job by safeguarding voters against partisan manipulation of election rules. This comment explains why the ruling is correct and why Ohio’s call to stay the existing court order should be rejected, especially now that same day registration and early voting are just about to begin.
Back in 2004, those of us who worked on election law here at Ohio State realized that Ohio might play a pivotal role in the upcoming presidential election. (It did, but for the sake of the nation not as pivotally as it might have.) We also knew that 2004 would be the first presidential election after passage of the Help America Vote Act, with all its new rules on voter registration databases, voter identification, and provisional ballots. We thought it might be useful if, as a team, we tried to get up to speed on the new terrain of “election administration law,” which had been a sleepy field in terms of scholarship before 2000. We had a sense that teamwork would enable us to produce various forms of useful scholarship that we could not accomplish working separately.
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