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A legal question

Two federal judges have declared recent changes in Ohio’s voting laws unconstitutional:

Judge Michael H. Watson, appointed by George W. Bush, made his 120-page ruling May 24. He stated that the GOP-run Ohio legislature in 2014 had violated the U.S. Constitution and Voting Rights Act by cutting the period of early voting from 35 to 28 days. Lawmakers also got rid of “Golden Week,” a period when citizens could register to vote and cast an absentee ballot simultaneously. These moves disproportionately affected blacks, according to Watson, who pointed out in his ruling that African Americans took advantage of Golden week three-and-a-half times as much as did white voters in 2008 and five times as much as in 2012.

via Daily Kos

The other ruling involved absentee ballots, so is not germane to the point I’m about to make.

Ohio was not a Confederate state, and was not subject, so far as I’m aware, to the pre-clearance requirements of the late lamented Voting Rights Act. So this ruling must have been strictly on constitutional grounds.

I’m not quarreling with the judge, but what I can’t figure out is how Connecticut gets away with zero days of early voting, if it’s unconstitutional for Ohio to have only 28 days. I realize that the legislature can’t do much to change things, because someone had the bright idea of casting our voting laws in stone by putting them in the state Constitution, but state constitutions take a back seat to the U.S. Constitution. Perhaps the distinction is that while our voting laws merely have the (presumably) unintended effect of making it difficult for people, especially working people, to vote, Ohio’s changes were intended to make it harder for certain people, disproportionally minorities, to vote. Nonetheless, it still has to be easier for anyone to vote in Ohio than it is here in the Land of Steady (but not always particularly good) Habits. It probably wouldn’t be hard to prove that our one day fits all voting (except for absentee ballots, which you have to qualify to get) disproportionately dampens minority turnout, so the effect is likely the same in both states.

In 2014 the poorly informed electorate turned back an attempt to change our antiquated voting laws. Maybe someone should sue the state. The state could confess judgment and then we could modernize our voting laws.

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