POLITICS

Appeals Court Orders Ohio To Count Purged Voters' Ballots

A 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel's emergency ruling likely will affect thousands of voters in next week's election.

A federal appeals court in Ohio issued an emergency ruling allowing provisional ballots cast by people purged from voter rolls to be counted in next week’s midterm elections

In a decision likely affecting thousands of voters, a 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel determined that those purged from the rolls between 2011 and 2015 will be eligible to vote as long as they live in the same county where they were last registered. Anyone who re-registered before Oct. 9 should be able to vote with a regular ballot, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the plaintiffs. 

Ohio’s secretary of state, Jon Husted, said he won’t appeal the ruling to avoid “an unnecessary source of contention” days before the election. 

Ohio removes voter registrations for people who don’t vote for several consecutive years and fail to notify the state of an address change. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that Ohio’s aggressive voter purge practice was legal. 

“Today’s ruling will allow Ohio voters ― who would have been unlawfully disenfranchised ― to cast their ballot this November,” Stuart Naifeh, senior counsel at Demos, another plaintiff, said in a statement. “In a state where elections have been won or lost by only one vote, protecting the right of eligible voters to have their voices heard will uphold the fundamental principles on which our democracy is supposed to operate.”

Fears of voter suppression have plagued several states ahead of the midterms. In Georgia, secretary of state Brian Kemp (R), also a candidate for governor, has been accused of stalling on over 53,000 voter applications, almost 70 percent from black applicants. 

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