SCOTUS: Ohio can keep disenfranchising voters over minor errors

Thousands of Ohio voters will likely continue to be disenfranchised every election over minor errors on their ballot, after the Supreme Court declined Monday to get involved in a case challenging the practice in the pivotal swing state.

The case highlights how voting issues that may seem minor and that get far less attention than restrictions like voter ID can nevertheless represent real barriers to the polls.

At issue in the case is the enforcement of an an Ohio law requiring that people who vote by absentee or provisional ballot provide certain personal information — including their full name, birthdate, and the last four digits of their social security number.

A GOP-backed bill passed by state lawmakers in 2014, part of a series of restrictive voting measures approved by Republicans, allows local election officials to reject any ballot whose information is deemed to be “incomplete.” That’s led thousands of voters to be disenfranchised for things like forgetting to include their birthdate, or writing their address in the wrong slot.

A coalition of homeless organizations challenged the enforcement of the law, noting that members of their community are disproportionately illiterate or disabled, making such errors more likely.  Lawyers for Secretary of State Jon Husted (pictured), the defendant in the case, argued that the information is needed to verify voters’ identities.

An appeals court ruled last year that the group lacked standing in the case. The Supreme Court announced Monday that it would not intervene in the case.



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