Credit: CC-BY-SA-3.0/ Matt H. Wade at Wikipedia
Update: The Supreme Court rejected the request on October 31.

A Cleveland homeless organization and the Ohio Democratic Party are asking the U.S. Supreme Court for an emergency stay of a ruling they warn will disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters in the battleground state during this presidential election.


The filing, delivered late Tuesday, argues that voting laws put in place in 2014 by Ohio’s Republican Legislature unnecessarily restrict the right to vote and harm minority voters more than whites. The laws limit poll worker assistance and require absolute accuracy when filling out parts of the absentee and provisional ballot forms.

The rules end up getting applied more strictly in big urban counties with higher minority populations than in predominantly white rural counties, said Cleveland lawyer Subodh Chandra, who represents the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.

“It’s just fundamentally unfair,” Chandra said in an interview. “That fundamentally violates the principles of equal protection that we hold dear.”

Ohio’s Republican secretary of state, Jon Husted, blasted the last-ditch appeal, saying, “With Election Day now less than two weeks away, I am hopeful the court will see this latest filing for what it is: an 11th hour attempt to inject chaos into Ohio’s election.”

A federal judge struck down the regulations earlier this year, finding that they discriminated against black voters. But the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision in September, upholding most of the challenged rules.

The appellate ruling prompted an impassioned dissent by Judge Damon Keith, who wrote, “The utter brutality of white supremacy in its efforts to disenfranchise persons of color is the foundation for the tragedy that is the Majority’s effort to roll back the progress of history. I will not forget. I cannot forget – indeed America cannot forget – the pain, suffering, and sorrow of those who died for equal protection and for this precious right to vote.”

Will Evans can be reached at wevans@cironline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @willCIR.

Will Evans is a senior reporter and producer for Reveal, covering labor and tech. His reporting has prompted government investigations, legislation, reforms and prosecutions. A series on working conditions at Amazon warehouses was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize and won a Gerald Loeb Award. His work has also won multiple Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards, including for a series on safety problems at Tesla. Other investigations have exposed secret spying at Uber, illegal discrimination in the temp industry and rampant fraud in California's drug rehab system for the poor. Prior to joining The Center for Investigative Reporting in 2005, Evans was a reporter at The Sacramento Bee. He is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.