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.”