A federal judge Friday afternoon denied a request for a temporary restraining order sought by voter advocates who want to move Ohio’s voter registration deadline and make other changes to Ohio’s new election plan.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Watson ruled in the case brought by the League of Women Voters of Ohio and the A. Philip Randolph Institute.
Those groups had argued in a lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court Southern District of Ohio that the plan adopted by the Ohio General Assembly to extend absentee balloting until April 28, with limited in-person voting, violated the National Voter Registration Act and the First and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
They were seeking to extend the primary election’s voter registration deadline, to require boards of elections to mail postage-paid primary ballots to all registered voters who haven’t already voted, and to schedule a new end date for the primary election.
State attorneys argued in their response Thursday that changing the election again would sow more confusion among voters.
State lawmakers adopted the new plan to conduct Ohio’s primary election mostly by mail after Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton closed the polls hours before they were set to open on March 17 to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose told boards of elections to comply with the order. The General Assembly adopted its new plan the following week.
“The Constitution does not require the best plan, just a lawful one. As is apparent from the briefing in this lawsuit, every group has a different idea of what the best plan would be. But the court will not declare the Ohio legislature’s unanimous bill to be unconstitutional simply because other options may have been better,” Watson wrote in his decision.