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Supreme Court kills last hope of restoring key early voting week in Ohio

Ohio Gov. John Kasich walks out of a polling station in Westerville, Ohio. CREDIT: AP Photo/Matt Rourke
Ohio Gov. John Kasich walks out of a polling station in Westerville, Ohio. CREDIT: AP Photo/Matt Rourke

The Supreme Court rejected a petition from Ohio Democrats Tuesday morning to restore a crucial week of early voting known as “Golden Week,” the only time voters can register to vote and cast a ballot in a single visit.

About 60,000 Ohioans voted during Golden Week in 2008 and 80,000 did so in 2012. In 2008, black voters were 3.5 times more likely to use Golden Week as white voters. In 2012, they were more than five times as likely.

The Court gave no rationale for their decision and there were no written dissents released, though justices may have disagreed behind the scenes.

Though a federal district court ruled in May that the cuts were “unconstitutional” and ordered the state to restore Golden Week, a federal appeals court overturned that decision in August, siding with Ohio Republicans who sought to cut this opportunity. A dissenting judge on that court criticized the ruling and argued that the early voting cut “imposes a disproportionate burden on African Americans” who disproportionately depend on that week to vote.

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The Democratic Party then appealed, pleading with the federal court to stay the ruling until after the 2016 presidential election, in which the swing state of Ohio is expected to play a decisive role.

Because Ohio does not offer same-day voter registration on Election Day, and because the Governor is refusing to implement online voter registration until after the election, the Supreme Court’s ruling effectively eliminates the possibility for one-stop voting this November.