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Press release/statement

Ohio's Same-Day Registration for Early Voting Upheld by Federal Court

Ruling Praised by Election Policy Center Demos

Cleveland, OH--Ohio voters will be able to register and vote an absentee ballot on the same day during the state's early voting period, from September 30th through October 6th, thanks to rulings today in three separate lawsuits in state and federal court.  U.S. District Judge James Gwin of the Northern District of Ohio sided with voting rights groups and the Ohio Secretary of State in a ruling issued early this morning, holding that Boards of Elections must allow simultaneous registration and absentee voting during the upcoming early voting period in order to comply with the Voting Rights Act.  Shortly after, the Ohio Supreme Court rejected a separate effort by Ohio Republicans to halt Same-Day Registration (SDR), ruling that the procedure is lawful under longstanding Ohio law.

Another federal court in the Southern District of Ohio also issued a ruling this afternoon refusing a request by the Ohio Republican Party to halt Same-Day Registration, but ruled that the state must permit observers at early voting sites.

Demos Legal Director Brenda Wright, one of the counsel for voters defending Same-Day Registration in these actions, said, The court rulings upholding Same-Day Registration are a victory for common sense.  Three separate courts have now rejected the misguided effort to halt a practice that makes voting more accessible and convenient for thousands of Ohioans.  Further appeals to interfere with Same-Day Registration would be a disservice to the people of Ohio and should be dropped.

The experience of other states that allow SDR or a version of it, including Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina,Wisconsin and Wyoming, shows that it increases voter participation by several percentage points over non-SDR states and can be administered efficiently and without threatening the integrity of elections.  Thousands of Ohio voters will benefit from today's rulings, particularly young first-time voters, persons with limited access to transportation, and the many thousands who can't afford multiple absences from a job or child care to register and vote at separate times. 

The ACLU and Professor Daniel Tokaji of Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law led the effort to prepare the amicus brief filed on behalf of numerous Ohio organizations and national voting rights advocates, including the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, 1Matters, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, Project Vote, and the United States Hispanic Leadership Council, along with Demos.