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Federal Judge Upholds Ohio’s New Election Law Demanding Strict Photo ID

A federal judge has upheld the constitutional provisions of Ohio’s sweeping election law enacted last year, dismissing a challenge from a Democratic law firm.

Democratic Challenge to Ohio’s Election Law Provisions

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The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Donald Nugent covered various aspects of the law, including new photo ID requirements, restrictions on dropboxes, and tightened deadlines related to absentee and provisional ballots.

Elias Law Group’s Claims Rejected

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The legal challenge was initiated by the Elias Law Group, a democratic group representing groups such as military veterans, teachers, retirees, and the homeless.

Needless and Discriminatory Burdens

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The lawsuit argued that the election law imposed “needless and discriminatory burdens” on the right to vote. The ruling, issued on Monday, rejected these claims, asserting that Ohio’s new photo ID requirement places no more than a minimal burden, if any, on the vast majority of voters.

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Governor DeWine Signs Controversial Election Law Despite Opposition

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Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, signed the legislation on the same day the lawsuit was filed, despite objections from voting rights, labor, environmental, and civil rights groups that had advocated for a veto.

Voters’ Constitutional Rights

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Judge Nugent addressed several key elements of the law, emphasizing that voters do not have a constitutional right to a mail-in voting option or early voting. He pointed out that Ohio’s schedule for obtaining and returning absentee ballots remains more generous than that of 30 other states.

Ohio’s Absentee Ballot

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The contention over ballot drop boxes, limited to a single location per county, was also addressed by the judge. While acknowledging that the 2023 law was the first in Ohio to allow drop boxes, Nugent argued that opponents failed to prove any significant burden imposed by the restrictions. He highlighted that the lawsuit lacked evidence showing that the drop-box rules had adversely affected Ohio voters.

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History of Dispute

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The issue of drop box locations had been a subject of dispute in the lead-up to the 2020 election. Before the enactment of the 2023 law, Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose faced criticism for setting a single-box limit, a decision deemed unreasonable and arbitrary by three courts.

Democrats’ Battle for Multiple Drop Box Locations

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Democrats and voting rights groups had advocated for multiple drop box locations, particularly in densely populated counties, to facilitate voting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drop Box Drama

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In a 2020 lawsuit filed by Democrats, a state appellate court ruled that LaRose had the authority to expand the number of drop boxes without further legislative authorization, although he was not obligated to do so. The 2023 law marked the first legislative intervention on the matter, formalizing the single-drop box limit.

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Reactions to Ruling

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Reacting to the ruling, Derek Lyons, president and CEO of Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections (RITE), a group co-founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove, expressed satisfaction. “RITE is very proud to have helped defend Ohio’s important and commonsense election law.

Judge’s Comprehensive Ruling Resolves Challenges

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With Ohio courts affirming the new law, voters can have confidence that Ohio’s elections are an accurate measure of their will,” Lyons stated.

The judge’s comprehensive ruling provides clarity on the legality of Ohio’s election law, signaling a resolution to the legal challenges it faced.

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