Court Won’t Reconsider Ohio Online Ballot Tool Ruling

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By Alexis Kramer

Nov. 14 — A federal district court Nov. 14 declined to reconsider a decision that implementing an online ballot-marking tool in Ohio is an unreasonable request under federal law ( Hindel v. Husted , S.D. Ohio, No. 2:15-cv-3061, 11/14/16 ).

The National Federation of the Blind and three blind, registered voters alleged that Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide an alternative to paper absentee ballots. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio ruled in May that the technology would fundamentally alter the state’s voting system because it hadn’t been used in a prior Ohio election nor certified in accordance with state law.

The plaintiffs had previously hoped Husted would make the tool available in time for the 2016 presidential election. According to the court, the plaintiffs may still pursue state certification so that the tool can be implemented for future elections.

The plaintiffs asked the court to reconsider its opinion after a new Ohio law removed a federal pre-certification requirement for proposed ballot-marking tools. The plaintiffs argued that the change in law cleared the way for an accessible ballot-marking tool in the state.

The court said Nov. 14 that the Ohio law didn’t remove the entire certification process, but rather only one component. It said that contrary to the plaintiffs’ allegations, the court didn’t base its opinion on the theory that state certification was impossible because the proposed technology wasn’t certifiable at the federal level.

A reference to the federal pre-certification requirement “cannot be construed as the fundamental basis of the Court’s Opinion and Order,” the court said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Kramer in Washington at akramer@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bna.com

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