The Supreme Court today declined to go along with a request by the Ohio Republican Party that could have threatened the ability of thousands of new Ohio voters to cast ballots in next month's election. In this unsigned opinion the Court vacated a temporary restraining order that would have required Ohio election officials to release some 200,000 voter names that don't match existing data. Republicans sought the order to avert what they see as widespread voter fraud and require voters with mismatched names to cast provisional ballots. Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner objected that the 11th-hour Republican effort would confuse voters and disrupt the election, when the mismatches were likely caused by clerical errors.
The high court expressed no opinion on the merits of the dispute, but said the Republican party was "not sufficiently likely" to prevail on an issue of standing in the case to justify continuing the restraining order.
Rick Hasen, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who runs the Election Law Blog, applauded the Court's action as a deterrent to 11th-hour challenges aimed at disrupting elections. "If cases reasonably could have been brought earlier, but are brought just before the election, courts should be wary of entertaining such claims to interfere with the upcoming election," he said. Kathryn Kolbert of the liberal People for the American Way agreed. "The facts are clear: there isn’t a shred of evidence of organized voter fraud in this country, and GOP efforts to prevent it only risk disenfranchising American citizens who have every right to cast a ballot. The 'voter fraud' fraud has been pushed by the right wing to help justify draconian restrictions on the right to vote. We should all be grateful that the Court managed to look through the deceit and exaggeration that has dominated this discussion."