Federal Judge rips GOP poster boy for voter suppression

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley ripped the GOP's poster boy for voter suppression, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, in a ruling on Tuesday. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports, Federal judge rips Jon Husted for unconstitutional change to Ohio election rules:

A federal judge blasted Ohio’s elections chief on Tuesday,
questioning his motives for setting new vote-counting rules that
violated state law just days before the presidential election. In a scathing 17-page ruling (opinion and order .pdf), U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley said a directive on counting
provisional ballots that Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted issued on
Nov. 2 was "a flagrant violation of a state elections law" that could
disenfranchise voters.

"The surreptitious manner in which the
secretary went about implementing this last minute change to the
election rules casts serious doubt on his protestations of good faith,"
Marbley wrote.

* * *

Marbley noted numerous times that Husted, a Republican, set the new rules at 7 p.m. on a Friday.

"Ohio
voters reasonably expect that the secretary of Ohio will abide by the
General Assembly’s laws in administering a federal election," Marbley
wrote. "For an executive 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.’"

* * *

Husted’s Nov. 2 directive to local elections officials gave them new
instructions to reject certain provisional ballots from voters who did
not properly fill out the portion of the ballot application that asks
for a form of identification.

Marbley’s ruling said the directive
violates a state law
that places the responsibility on poll workers –
not voters – to properly fill out the ballot application. The directive
also violates an agreement reached in federal court, called a consent
decree
, that protects provisional ballots that contain mistakes due to
poll worker error, according to the ruling.

Marbley’s ruling narrowed the circumstances for rejecting provisional
ballots and ordered Husted to issue a new directive, by noon on Friday.

* * *

Throughout his ruling, Marbley criticized the provisional ballot
application Husted designed for the presidential election. Marbley
questioned whether the poor drafting was "by design or accident."

Marbley
said the form illegally shifted the responsibility for recording
identification information on the provisional ballot application from
the poll worker to the voter. The form also makes it difficult for
election officials to determine if erroneous applications are the fault
of the poll worker or the voter.

"The voter acting in good faith cannot suffer disenfranchisement as a result of the secretary’s drafting errors," Marbley wrote.

And there it is . . . a spokesman for Secretary Husted said he will appeal the judge's ruling. Update: The state has already filed a notice of appeal.

Provisional ballots cast in the presidential election will begin to be counted on Saturday (barring a court order).

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