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Ohio's Golden Week of Voting is Back, at Least for Now

photo of Jon Husted

A federal judge says an Ohio law eliminating the week in which voters can both register and vote is unconstitutional. 

Democrats challenged the change GOP lawmakers made in 2014. They argued that cutting golden week disproportionately hurt African-American voters. And a federal judge has agreed, citing Census data that underscored the point.

Democratic state Rep. Kathleen Clyde of Kent says Republicans have repeatedly tried to keep Democratic leaning-voters at home. She says a core GOP argument – that Ohio has one of the longest early voting periods in the country – doesn’t work.

“That doesn’t justify their passing bills that make it harder to count votes, passing bills that increase the amount of purging that goes on in the state, passing bills that limit access to voting places."

And Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper says Republicans keep losing that argument in court.   

Pepper on GOP argument

  “If you try and peel back voting, or roll it back or make it harder  and the way in which you do that has a impact like this voting rule today that makes it harder for one group – in particular African Americans – to vote, you are violating the Constitution.”

Husted says he’ll consult with Republican legislative leaders before deciding what to do next.

If the judge’s ruling withstands an expected appeal, Ohioans will have 35 days to vote early in the November election. Watson upheld other GOP changes, including new rules for absentee ballot mailing and limits on early voting locations.

M.L. Schultze is a freelance journalist. She spent 25 years at The Repository in Canton where she was managing editor for nearly a decade, then served as WKSU's news director and digital editor until her retirement.