Ohio Election Law Upheld as Constitutional, Dismissing Democratic Challenge to Photo ID Requirements and Voting Deadlines

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A federal judge has ruled that Ohio’s controversial election law, which includes strict new photo ID requirements, drop box restrictions, and tightened deadlines for absentee and provisional ballots, is constitutional. The judge’s decision came in response to a lawsuit filed by a Democratic law firm challenging these provisions.

U.S. District Court Judge Donald Nugent, in his ruling on Monday, stated that the state’s new photo ID requirement does not impose a significant burden on the majority of voters. He also dismissed the arguments made by the Elias Law Group, which represented various groups including military veterans, teachers, retirees, and the homeless, claiming that the law placed unnecessary and discriminatory burdens on the right to vote.

The lawsuit was filed on the same day that Republican Governor Mike DeWine signed the legislation into law, despite opposition from voting rights, labor, environmental, and civil rights groups. These groups had urged a veto of the law.

Judge Nugent further emphasized that there is no constitutional right to mail-in voting or early voting. He also noted that Ohio’s timeframe for obtaining and returning absentee ballots is more generous than that in 30 other states.

Regarding the limitation of drop boxes to a single location, the judge argued that it did not harm voters since this was the first time the state had even allowed drop boxes. However, it is important to note that Republican lawmakers made this decision after a prolonged battle over the issue.

In the lead-up to the 2020 election, three courts reprimanded Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose for setting the single-box limit, considering it unreasonable and arbitrary. Democrats and voting rights groups had sought multiple drop box locations, especially in populous counties, to facilitate voting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a lawsuit filed by Democrats in 2020, a state appellate court determined that LaRose had the authority to increase the number of drop boxes without further legislative approval, although it was not mandatory. The 2023 law addressed this issue for the first time by codifying the single-box limit.

Judge Nugent concluded that opponents of the law had failed to present a persuasive argument that the drop-box rules imposed an undue burden on Ohio voters.

This ruling has garnered praise from Derek Lyons, president and CEO of Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections, a group co-founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove. Lyons stated that the ruling affirmed the importance and common sense of Ohio’s election law, instilling confidence in the accuracy of the state’s elections.

In summary, a federal judge has upheld the constitutionality of Ohio’s sweeping election law, dismissing a challenge brought by a Democratic law firm. The law includes stringent photo ID requirements, drop box restrictions, and tightened deadlines for absentee and provisional ballots. The judge found that the law does not impose substantial burdens on voters and noted that Ohio’s absentee ballot timeline remains more generous than that of many other states. Critics of the law failed to convince the court that it placed undue burdens on Ohio voters.