Court rules Ohio’s “Golden Week” unconstitutional

"Vote!" by H. Michael Karshls, some rights reserved

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WOWO/Ohio News Service): The week when Ohio voters can register and cast a ballot at the same time – known as “Golden Week” – is gone again.

A 2014 law that ended Golden Week recently was ruled unconstitutional by a district court. However, the state appealed, and on Tuesday, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the district court ruling.

Mike Brickner, senior policy director for the ACLU of Ohio, said the ruling disproportionately impacts poorer Ohioans, including those who are homeless or work more than one job.

“They often use Golden Week,” he said, “because making two trips to a Board of Elections was oftentimes too difficult and it’d be hard for them to balance with their work or personal-life responsibilities.”

The appeals court on Tuesday said Ohio law provides “abundant and convenient” opportunities for voting. The plaintiff in the case, the Ohio Democratic Party, can still ask the full 6th Circuit bench to hear the case or appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Some opponents of Golden Week argued that it compromised the integrity of the election. Catherine Turcer, a policy analyst for the voting rights organization Common Cause, insisted that was not the case.

“If somebody goes and they register and they cast a ballot, that ballot is set aside and they spend time trying to confirm that that person is a resident of Ohio, and that they are who they say they are,” she said, “and they have five weeks to do that.”

Tuesday’s decision pushes back the start of early voting in Ohio from Oct. 5 to Oct. 11.

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