In 2006, we successfully litigated a case in the federal Northern District against then Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell. The suit concerned the constitutionality of Ohio Revised Code 3505.20(A)(2),(3) and (4) which permitted poll workers to demand documentation of the citizenship status of naturalized citizens before permitting them to vote. The judge ruled the
provision of the Revised Code to be unconstitutional and directed Sec. Blackwell to issue directives to poll workers that prohibited them from asking individuals anything more than whether they are citizens. The judge also ordered Sec. Blackwell to issue a directive to boards of elections requiring each polling location to put up signage. The signs contained information for
voters and poll workers alike that poll workers may only ask if a voter is a citizen and may not ask further questions. Recently, the Secretary of State has made statements in the press about his desire to delve deeper into the issue of voters’ citizenship statuts to stop potential voter fraud. Also, organizations such as True the Vote have indicated they will send “poll monitors” to
oversee operations at polling places. The hysteria surrounding voter fraud by immigrants leads us to believe there is a high likelihood that poll workers would attempt to enforce the unconstitutional statute.
A federal judge has already ruled section 3505.20(A)(2),(3) and (4) of the ORC to be unconstitutional. The fact that it remains on the books during a time when immigration status and voter fraud are such controversial issues could lead to illegal profiling and violations of equal protection. Poll workers might rely on the yet-to-be repealed ORC sections and force naturalized citizens to produce proof of citizenship in violation of the original 2006 Boustani decision.
STATUS: We filed our Motion for Additional Relief on September 25, 2012. The Secretary failed to respond before the deadline. On October 15, 2012, we filed a notice with the court that the time for the Secretary to respond had expired. The Secretary filed on October 15, 2012 its response to our notice. The Secretary stated that our original motion was dispositive in nature and therefore he had 30 days within which to respond. We filed on October 17, 2012. The Secretary filed his response to our motion on October 19, 2012. On November 6, 2012 the Court ruled, denying our Motion for Additional Relief.