WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) issued the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, blocked early voting scheduled to begin in Ohio on Sep. 30:
“It is disappointing that the partisan effort in Columbus to make it harder for some Ohioans to vote has found five allies on the U.S. Supreme Court,” Brown said. “We should be removing barriers to the ballot, not creating them. The attack by state leaders on early voting is a cynical effort to obstruct access to the polls for working Ohioans, minorities, and seniors. As a former Secretary of State of Ohio, I believe that our democracy is strengthened when more eligible voters can vote.”
Brown has long fought to ensure Ohioans’ voting rights. Earlier this year, he applauded a decision by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to challenge attempts by Ohio’s Secretary of State (SOS) to restrict early voting and same day registration. The DOJ filed a statement of interest in NAACP v. Husted, contesting that Ohio incorrectly interpreted Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act in setting election guidelines.
In May 2012, Brown and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) held an official hearing of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights at the Carl B. Stokes United States Federal Courthouse in Cleveland. The hearing examined the impact of Ohio’s repealed voting law, H.B. 194. The law would have reduced the number of early voting days from 35 to 17, eliminated voting on the weekend before an election, removed the requirement that poll workers direct voters to their proper precinct, and prohibited county boards of elections from mailing unsolicited absentee ballots.
In June 2011, Brown raised concerns over highly restrictive photo identification voting laws that were under consideration or already signed into law in several states across the country. In a letter sent to DOJ, Brown asked the agency to use its full powers as enacted in the Voting Rights Act to review these laws and their implementation.