Law firm for Democrats files suit against Ohio election law

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A Democratic law firm has filed suit against Ohio’s new election law, claiming on behalf of groups representing military veterans, teachers, retirees and the homeless that it “imposes needless and discriminatory burdens” on the right to vote.

Elias Law Group brought the suit in federal court in Cleveland on Friday, the same day Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed the legislation over the objections of voting-rights, labor, environmental and civil-rights groups that had been pleading for a veto.

The litigation notes that Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose, the defendant, and state Sen. Theresa Gavarone, who oversaw insertion of the most stringent provisions into the bill, both have lauded Ohio’s exemplary administration of the 2020 election.

Yet, it alleges, lawmakers “leveraged false allegations of widespread election fraud” to justify the bill, making it “significantly harder for lawful voters — particularly young, elderly, and Black Ohioans, as well as military servicemembers and other Ohioans living abroad — to exercise their fundamental right to participate in the state’s elections.”

The lawsuit takes particular aim at three provisions: a strict photo ID requirement; the shrunken window for curing a provisionally-cast ballot; and tightened deadlines for applying for and returning mail-in ballots.

“If the challenged provisions accomplish anything, it will be to diminish confidence in an electoral system that those in office have co-opted to entrench their positions of power at the expense of voters’ rights,” the lawsuit states.

In signing the bill Friday, DeWine said his administration had worked to prevent the most severe restrictions under consideration from being included in the legislation. He said the final version will protect election integrity.

LaRose said in a statement after the signing that the public strongly supports requiring a photo ID to vote and that the bill found a “common-sense” way to accomplish that.

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