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Ohio voting org asks judge to toss law they say illegally limits people who can help disabled voters

Activists are asking a federal judge to rule on a lawsuit they filed in December over a provision in a sweeping Republican-backed law that took effect last year. That law requires voters to show photo ID, limits counties to one secure ballot drop box, eliminated most August special elections, and changed some rules on voting for people with disabilities.

House Bill 458 allows people with disabilities who need help returning their absentee ballots to call on a specific list of people:

  • parent or parent-in-law,
  • grandparent,
  • sibling, including half-sibling,
  • child, including adopted child or stepchild,
  • aunt or uncle,
  • niece or nephew.

But Jen Miller with the League of Women Voters of Ohio said grandchildren, friends, caregivers or professional aides aren’t allowed to help.
“Far too many Ohioans with disabilities do not have someone on the approved list who can assist them in returning their absentee ballot. This violates federal disability voting access laws," Miller said. "A voter with a disability should be able to choose whomever they want to assist them with their absentee ballot and especially common sense helpers like roommates and grandkids and in laws, people, they've known their whole lives and they may be relying on for other errands, like going to get the groceries or prescriptions."

The law makes it a fourth-degree felony for anyone not on the list to return a voter's ballot. LWV has said that could include voting rights groups that help assist voters.

LWV and the ACLU of Ohio sued in federal court in December on behalf of a woman with muscular dystrophy. They claim HB 458 violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and is unconstitutionally vague under the 4th Amendment's due process clause in the U.S. Constitution.

Republicans argued limiting those who can assist people with their ballots was important for election integrity, though they’ve also praised Ohio’s elections system for accuracy and security.

The LWV and the ACLU of Ohio have filed for a summary judgement in the case, asking the judge to strike down the law.

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at
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