Judge Won't Change Ohio Election Law for Prisoners

Friday, 02 Nov 2012 12:38 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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A federal judge in Ohio is refusing to change a state law that bars some jailed individuals from voting on Election Day, saying she needs more time to study the case.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the ruling Thursday came in response to a lawsuit filed by several voter advocacy groups challenging the law as unconstitutional because it prevents prisoners arrested during the three days before the election from voting.
The state argued that the law is fair and that any changes in the days just before the election would cause problems in the voting process.
“The court appreciates the importance of an individual’s right to vote,” U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott said. “However, at this late date, so near in time to a presidential election, the court also is mindful of the importance of avoiding a rash decision.” She plans to allow the case to proceed after the election.
Convicted felons are barred from voting until they are released from prison. But the law requires voters who are in jail on non-felony charges or convictions to request an absentee ballot no later than noon on the Saturday before the election in order to vote.
However, the groups challenging the law, led by the nonprofit Fair Elections Ohio, say the rule excludes people jailed between Saturday afternoon and Election Day.

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