US Supreme Court Protects Newly Registered Ohioans’ Voting Rights

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

James Freedland, ACLU national, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666; media@aclu.org
Mike Brickner, ACLU of Ohio, (216) 472-2220

ACLU

US Supreme Court Protects Newly Registered Ohioans’ Voting Rights

ACLU Hails Decision As a Major Victory for Ohio Voters

WASHINGTON - In
a major victory for voting rights, the U.S. Supreme Court today issued
an order protecting voters in Ohio from attempts to challenge their
registrations based on small inaccuracies in government databases. The
order reverses an appeals court decision that required Secretary of
State Jennifer Brunner to provide all 88 county Boards of Elections
with lists of mismatched voters that had discrepancies between the
information on their registration forms and other government databases.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a friend-of-the-court brief
early this morning in support of Brunner's position.

"We are grateful that the Supreme
Court reversed the flawed appeals court decision. Today's decision
protects the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of Ohioans who
could have been illegally disenfranchised," said Meredith Bell-Platts,
staff counsel with the ACLU Voting Rights Project. "Had this program
gone forward, Ohio voters would have been subjected to added confusion
and chaos at the polls. While there are plenty of other voter
suppression strategies being deployed in Ohio and across the country,
at least this one has been put to rest."

If the program went into effect,
failed matches could have resulted in hundreds of thousands of lawful
voters being purged from the rolls, challenged at the polls or required
to cast provisional ballots.

"This is a major victory for Ohio
voters. We hope that political parties will think twice the next time
they try to play games with voter lists in the weeks before an
election," said Carrie Davis, staff counsel with the ACLU of Ohio.
"Purging voters because of data errors is unlawful. We must continue to
be vigilant and fight against these and other forms of voter
suppression."

On Thursday, the U.S. District Court
for the Southern District of Ohio ordered Brunner to provide the
information in the databases. That decision was reversed the next day
by a panel of three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth
Circuit. Upon hearing the case, the full appeals court overruled the
panel and ordered Brunner to provide the information. Brunner appealed
to the U.S. Supreme Court and the case is called Ohio Republican Party, et. al. v. Brunner.

The Supreme Court's order is available at: www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/08pdf/08A332.pdf

The ACLU's friend-of-the-court brief is available online at: www.aclu.org/votingrights/gen/37196lgl20081017.html

More information about the ACLU's voting rights cases is available online at: www.aclu.org/votingrights/gen/36949res20080929.html

 

###

Share This Article

More in: