On the eve of the March 17, 2020 primary election in Ohio, Governor DeWine and Director of Health Acton announced that the election was to be postponed because of COVID-19. Secretary of State LaRose announced that the new primary date would be June 2. In response, the Ohio Democratic Party initiated litigation in the Ohio Supreme Court against Secretary of State LaRose, arguing that its associational rights would be substantially burdened if the Secretary set a primary date any later than April 28. The Ohio Libertarian Party intervened, agreeing that Secretary LaRose’s June 2 date should be rescinded, but arguing for a later election date than the April 28 proposal by the Democratic Party.

We filed an amicus brief on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Ohio and the Ohio A. Phillip Randolph Institute, advancing the amici’s interests but not supporting the positions advanced by the Ohio Democratic or Ohio Libertarian parties.

Legal Theory

Our amicus brief argues that closing off voter registration more than 30 days before the election is a violation of the National Voter Registration Act, 52 U.S.C. § 20507. Moreover, any procedure set by the state should accommodate for voters’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by ensuring fair access to voting, a comprehensible process, and a timeline that would not prevent votes from being counted.

Status Update

On March 17 the Ohio Democratic Party filed an original action in the Supreme Court of Ohio seeking a Writ of Prohibition. The Libertarian Party of Ohio intervened two days later, seeking a Writ of Prohibition or alternative writ. Defendant filed answers to both parties’ complaints on March 20. Merit briefs were filed on March 23. We filed our brief in support of no party on behalf of amici the League of Women Voters of Ohio and the Ohio A. Phillip Randolph Institute on March 24.

Relators applied for dismissal of their case on March 25 in light of legislation passed by the Ohio General Assembly the previous day. Their dismissal was granted on March 27. Intervenor’s complaint remained open, but was dismissed as moot on March 31.

Date filed

March 24, 2020