Judge slams Ohio GOP Sec. State for vote suppression

This just in from one of the lawyers in the case, Subodh Chandra.  It’s a tad complicated.  But newsworthy.

Here’s ThinkProgress’ explanation of the background of the case from a week ago:

 In a last-minute directive that directly conflicts with Ohio law, [Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Jon] Husted ordered all voters who make a mistake when filling out a form accompanying provisional ballots to be disenfranchised. As the majority of provisional ballots are cast in Ohio’s five largest counties — all of which favor Democrats — and because low-income and transient voters are also more likely to vote provisionally, Husted’s directive will likely disenfranchise many more Democrats than Republicans.

And here’s the lawyer for the good guys, Subodh Chandra, with quotes from the judge’s ruling which was just issued (the full ruling is further below):

U.S. District Judge Marbley finds that Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted violated provisional voters’ substantive due process and equal-protection rights, violated a federal Consent Decree, and violated state law by–at the eleventh-hour, the Friday night before the election–shifting from poll workers to voters the statutory responsibility of recording identification information, and then directing elections boards to disenfranchise voters where the information was incomplete or missing.

[Among the judge’s findings:]

“Counsel for the Secretary unambiguously assured this Court that the Secretary understood the recording of ‘identifying information’ to be a duty ‘imposed upon the poll worker’ and that the failure to do so would not ‘invalidate ballots.’ The Court relied on this statement to the Plaintiff’s detriment. Nine days after making that representation to the Court, the Secretary ordered that no provisional ballots be counted if the identification information was improperly recorded, without [e]ngaging in fact-finding to support the change.” (PAGE 13)

The surreptitious manner in which the Secretary went about implementing this last minute change to the election rule casts serious doubts on his protestations of good faith.” (PAGE 13)

“Here the Secretary’s eleventh hour Directive, which disenfranchises an unknown but potentially large number of Ohio voters and violates state law, is one of the ‘rare, but serious’ violations of state election law” that violate substantive due process. (PAGE 14)

“The poor drafting of Form 12-B which, by design or by accident, purports to shift the poll worker’s statutory duty to record the form of identification to the provisional voter, did not provide occasion for the Plaintiffs to seek injunctive relief until the Secretary issue Directive 2012-54 at 7:00 pm on November 2…” (PAGE 9)

“Ohio voters reasonably expect that the Secretary of Ohio will abide by the General Assembly’s laws in administering a federal election. For an executive official of the state to [flout] state law in arbitrarily reassigning a poll worker’s statutory duty to a voter, with the result being disenfranchisement of the voter, is ‘fundamentally unfair and constitutionally impermissible.'” (PAGE 15)

“First, having created the equal protection issue by issuing a directive that violates both state law and a voluntarily entered Consent Decree, the Secretary cannot benefit from his illegal act by using it to escape his obligations under the Consent Decree. Second, if the Secretary has drafted Form 12-B in such a way that it both illegally shifts the burdens of recording identification information from election officials to voters and does not allow election workers to distinguish poll-worker error from voter failure to provide identification, that is the Secretary’s mistake. There were myriad options available to the Secretary to create a form which would have made such distinctions clear, but he chose not to pursue those options.” (PAGE 11)

“The voter acting in good faith cannot suffer disenfranchisement as a result of the Secretary’s drafting errors.” (PAGE 12)


And here’s the judge’s order:
2012-11-13 NEOCH #357 Opinion and Order of Judge Marbley

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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64 Responses to “Judge slams Ohio GOP Sec. State for vote suppression”

  1. Frosty72 says:

    Straw man. We’re not OK with it. Not by a long shot. But the goobers in the GOP didn’t give us an alternative worth exploring. Their candidate was a schmuck and caused many republicans to abandon the party.

  2. There is also a need to take away the creating of districts from the partisans and creating an independent non-partisan group to create election districts with no consideration to protecting incumbents. An incumbent should be reelected because they are the best candidate and not just because a district was created to protect their seat for them.

  3. Evan Dickinson says:

    The elector system is to give states votes instead of people.

    You do know that the democrats claim that requiring photo ID is something the Democrats consider as voter suppression and RACIST right?

    Yes, that would make things simpler.

  4. Rachel Payne says:

    Here’s the deal, if you keep voting these obstructionist into office and the courts do nothing to reprimand these people, your gonna keep seeing this. 2014 use your power to remove these politicians and judges from their appointed offices…….VOTE

  5. ellenta says:

    Evidently the Republicans didn’t get the memo “When you find yourself in a hole, quit digging…” I say, keep the shovel moving boys…every creepy, racist trick they try puts more votes on the Democratic side. Dig away! Don’t let things like facts or ethics interfere with your plans.

  6. Gloria Lynn says:

    Jail time for Husted.

  7. Sarvepalli says:

    The answer to your question, Andy, is Citizens United.

  8. An election standardization law was passed in 2002. The Republicans have blocked it from being implemented.

  9. Why isn’t the judge throwing this clown in gaol for a couple of days for contempt of court, which it clearly is.

  10. Movin OnDwn says:

    Husted has moved way beyond the politics to a spot at the head of the line for Gitmo.

  11. Why the hell didn’t the judge find him in civil contempt, and throw him in gaol for a couple of days?

  12. AndyKnowsItAll says:

    Here’s what I’ve never understood about the “corporations are people” argument: Ok, let’s assume, for the case of argument, that we accept that corporations are people. What makes these corporate people US citizens permitted to participate in the electoral process? This is NOT a minor point.

  13. cslib says:

    It was it showed the Republicans how successful they could be a stealing elections.

  14. CarlGustav says:

    Actually in many western countries we do not understand why US fights to protects it elector election system. When one vote from one citizen is worth less then another vote from another citizen.

    And instead of trying to fix this most states in US in my opinion is doing there best to get as few citizens as possible to vote. Where other countries do there best to get as many citizens to vote. An example is the law that invalidates the right to vote if you done a felony before in some state or that you actually have to register to vote before being able to vote.

    Where I come from my Social security number (equal in my country) and my photo ID is enough to prove that I am me. the voting always takes place on a Weekend (Saturday) so there is no debate about having to vote. I can pre vote up to two days before the election and if I pre-voted far in advance I can even enter the voting hall and change my vote.

    Why do the US have to make voting so hard? – Keep it simple.

  15. It seems like Republicans think that corporations and States are people, but that people aren’t always people, particularly urbanites and Latino immigrants.

  16. I agree. It’s important that the election agency be non-partisan and independent and not a federal bureau, else we’d be in an even worse spot than we’re in under the current general election process. Also, get rid of the damn electoral college – Presidents should be elected by popular vote.

  17. colleen2 says:

    I did not say it did & I wasn’t speaking to the issue of ignoring oaths. I was talking about breaking state and federal laws.
    Party affiliation has a great deal to do with if the lawbreaker is actually charged and we certainly haven’t been charging the practitioners of the Katherine Harris school of election fraud.
    as to the rest….I have no interest in vague conspiracy theories.

  18. mondo dentro says:

    Exactly. The GOP has learned over the past few decades that they can do stuff like this and the worst that happens is they get a “naughty naughty” from a judge. If what this guy did was illegal, then why is he not indicted?

  19. samizdat says:

    Considering that 80+% of Americans (with the logical assumption that a large portion of that 80% are Democratic Party members/supporters) are perfectly fine with the illegal and immoral Drone-bama bombing of innocents and American citizens, I’m gonna have to go with Mr. McGill on this one.

  20. And expect them to do so under the guise of “States Rights.”

  21. Guyeye says:

    As far as I’m concerned, this is treason, and should be punished accordingly.

  22. mark99k says:

    Prep the guillotines.

  23. Adam says:

    He needs to be fucking jailed. Put these fucking self-fulling, corrupted officials in fucking jail. This shit needs to stop. And the only way is to start making an example.

  24. Where’s the part where Husted goes to jail for contempt of court?

  25. Krusher says:

    Husted should face jail time for voter suppression.

  26. BarryG says:

    Can we add that all voting machines must provide a paper trail?

  27. Frosty72 says:

    Not the country – Republicans.

  28. Dave McGill says:

    The multiple instances of voter suppression and attempted voter suppression across the country, together with the unprecedented, vitriolic comments of the losers on social networking sites and on FOX News are shameful. I don’t know about you but I believe there is little to feel good about with respect to this election and its aftermath. I am ashamed for what this country has become…

  29. HolyMoly says:

    This is a different form of voter suppression, but I’d like to see a law passed making it a crime to send out mailers or make robo-calls that say “Don’t forget to vote on Wednesday.” The excuse is always “it was just a mistake,” but come on….everyone knows it’s not. If you don’t proofread your mailers before they go out, that’s gross negligence in my opinion. You dangle a prison sentence over anyone responsible for this sort of thing and watch how quickly it stops happening (every damn election in recent memory so far).

  30. HolyMoly says:

    It would be up to Congress to enforce that section (according to Section 5) but….wait…you mean they’re supposed to obey the Constitution? To do so would be so…partisan!

  31. matt says:

    This is wonderful to see. We will start seeing less voter disenfranchisement when corrupt people like the Ohio Secretary of State, Jon Husted, start getting held accountable for their actions. And when we have a non-partisan election agency run the voting.

  32. Max_1 says:

    But then…
    … How can the Rebulicrats and Demicons gonna win when they can’t “FIX” an election?

  33. Max_1 says:

    “Failure to do so gives the appearance of wealthy being above the law.”

    1) Party affiliation has nothing to do with State or Federal Officers ignoring their Oaths.
    2) To be able to charge, one must be without illegalities lurking in closets later to exposed by the defense. Perhaps this is closer to the truth than we know.

  34. Max_1 says:

    “go search for an honest man to enforce the laws”

    Quaint Oaths of Office easily forgotten by voters who don’t care and reelect the same players, over and over again…

  35. Max_1 says:

    I don’t know why the Ohio Sec. of State is even a free man about right now…
    … The Federal Government should have had him arrested the FIRST time he bucked the Law.

  36. jail for this fucker!

  37. mirror says:

    Hell, the judge isn’t even going to call them before the court for contempt. Unless there are serious individual punishments, there will never be an incentive for GOP officials running elections not to engage in voter suppression and cheating. I’ve read about endless cases this and have yet to see an official in court facing criminal charges, civil charges or charges of contempt.

  38. AdmNaismith says:

    Husted should have been fired the moment that video of him surfaced promising the election to Romney. I mean, he failed like so much of the Romney machine, but he should have been at home looking for a job on Election Day.

  39. josephebacon says:

    So is Holder going to prosecute Husted or is he going to implement Section 2 of the 14th Amendment and reduce the number of Representatives from Ohio due to vote suppression?

  40. mgreb says:

    We have Mr Blackwell rejecting voter regristration forms because the were on the wrong paper, and now this. And these guys are trying to gut the voting rights act ?

  41. Mighty says:

    I just hope the voters make sure to remember how they were treated when Husted comes up for election next.

  42. Asterix says:

    Since this guy cannot be trusted to protect voters’ rights, why not a court order that the court shall oversee all elections while he retains his position? Any attempted interference would be taken as contempt of court.

  43. Four years? No. The 2014 elections come first and are absolutely vital.

    We got into this mess because Democrats failed to turn out at mid terms in 2010. Democrats must get out the vote for 2014.

  44. penpal says:

    Expect Republicans to fight such standardization tooth and nail. The more complex the regulations are, the more opportunities for them to steal elections. Democrats MUST make national voter access a priority ASAP.

  45. mf_roe says:

    Maybe we could talk Rahm Emmanuel into setting up an independent commission with bi-partisan support from Jeb Bush. The problem is there is no national structure with the power to force these problems to the front of the line and there is no self-evident solution that is clear enough for the reality-impaired to embrace. The oligarchs have fostered a nation of petty ignorant people, they have used many tools, untold sums of money, and mountains of contempt for the rights of man. The problem is simple, we no longer understand how to solve ANY problem that requires self knowledge.

  46. HolyMoly says:

    Really, wealthy people in general are pretty much above the law. Lindsay Lohan comes to mind (I think she’s a right-winger though, isn’t she?), but also people like Rudy Giuliani (R) and Howard Dean (D) for their “material support” of the MEK (they’ve received money from the MEK to speak on their behalf).

    But to get back on the subject of the article, we are in need of a new Voting Rights Act. Everything needs to be standardized, from registration all the way to the booth.

  47. mf_roe says:

    Get you a lantern and go search for an honest man to enforce the laws we have now, they are not useless, just unused.

  48. Guest says:

    What’s amazing is the denial and rationalization the Republican whiteists are engaged in. They know they took a bath. They know the game is over for their nostalgic memory of an America that never was. But they can’t stand it. And they’re desperate to find any explanation other than their own myopia and bigotry for it.

  49. Sally says:

    You mean they aren’t above the law? Seems like he bishops did everything but send their parishioners a sample ballot all filled in with the ‘Christian’ names marked. And Romney certainly thinks he’s above any law ever written. So yes, time to do some major election reform. Wonder which party will stall and lie and refuse to help? Yeah, that one.

  50. BeccaM says:

    To add a touch more context to that: Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted ordered late on the Friday just before the November 6 election a change to provisional balloting procedures that, in fact, would result in those ballots being filled out illegally according to Ohio law.

    Ohio law clearly states that a poll official shall fill out the section where the voter provides some form of ID to prove eligibility to vote. Not the voter. In a blatant attempt to drive up ballot spoilage, Husted unilaterally changed the rules — again, ignoring the fact that what he was ordering was, in fact, contrary to Ohio election law.

    What’s worse is Husted is one of those Republicans who believes that judicial orders simply don’t apply to him.

    Anyway, he’s an absolute poster-boy object lesson as to why we need to get our election system entirely out of the hands of partisan officials — of EITHER party. This includes national standards for ballots, voter registration, voting procedures, early voting days and hours, post-election vote tabulation, and census-triggered redistricting. We should be aiming for universal suffrage rights and a guaranteed right as a citizen to vote without hindrance or suppression.

  51. BeccaM says:

    I concur 100%. Add to that non-partisan redistricting.

  52. hollywoodstein says:

    There oughtta be a law.

  53. hollywoodstein says:

    Maybe somebody should do something. Maybe someone who leads a major political party.

  54. basenjilover says:

    Old recycled news only in different places. Nothing is ever done…. note election was gifted to Bush and we have not done anything. This is why Republicans engage in deceptions because we lack spine and guts to do anything.

  55. mf_roe says:

    Texas is blue already but voter suppression and gerrymandering allow the Repugs to steal most elections here. If the Kocks had hired the people that run the show in Texas to run the election Romney would have won. Makes you wish we had laws in this country punishing election fraud that the Justice Dept actually enforced.

  56. cfox says:

    when do they file criminal civil rights violation charges, with RICO side charges? It is time that someone goes to jail, and pays a huge fine —state official who are in violation of laws to this extent should not be safe from prosecution.

  57. hollywoodstein says:

    And when will the Democrats do the TEXAS project.

    “In not too many years, Texas could switch from being all Republican to all Democrat,” [Texas Senator-elect Ted Cruz] said. “If that happens, no Republican will ever again win the White House. New York and California are for the foreseeable future unalterably Democrat. If Texas turns bright blue, the Electoral College math is simple. We won’t be talking about Ohio, we won’t be talking about Florida or Virginia, because it won’t matter. If Texas is bright blue, you can’t get to two-seventy electoral votes. The Republican Party would cease to exist. We would become like the Whig Party. Our kids and grandkids would study how this used to be a national political party. ‘They had Conventions, they nominated Presidential candidates. They don’t exist anymore.'”
    There are several hundred thousand Latino votes being left on the table in TEXAS. They don’t vote for a variety of reasons. Spend the millions every year for the next four years, to identify and register these people. Recruit respected Hispanic opinion leaders, entertainers, sports figures, whoever, to say over and over again WE VOTE, In TEXAS, (en Espanol of course). The districts have been gerrymandered to death, but it would still help, and statewide races will close. In four years the Presidential race could be a cakewalk. Do not wait until 2020. Start now.

  58. colleen2 says:

    The order is quite a read. We really need to start charging Catholic Bishops and Republicans when they commit crimes. Failure to do so gives the appearance of wealthy Republicans being above the law.

  59. hollywoodstein says:

    Exactly. 2000 should’ve been the wakeup call.

  60. hollywoodstein says:

    By the way, W’ere going to fix that. Best line of the night. Does anyone know if the Dems are doing anything in this regard?

  61. Naja pallida says:

    Wake me when someone is walked out of the Ohio Statehouse in handcuffs.

  62. hoplite_i says:


  63. Dennis says:

    So now what happens?

  64. Jim Olson says:

    This is why we need to remove elections from partisan, party loyal state officers, and like every other major western democracy, have the elections run by non-partisan, outside, election agencies with standardized national rules, standardized national registration, and standardized national early voting rules.

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