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League of Women Voters of Ohio v. LaRose

Location: Ohio
Status: Ongoing
Last Update: February 6, 2024

What's at Stake

In Ohio, HB 458 makes it a felony for any person who is not an election official or mail carrier to return an absentee voter’s ballot—including voters with disabilities—unless the person assisting falls within an unduly narrow list of relatives. We are challenging the law because it violates Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) by making it exceedingly difficult for voters with disabilities to cast their ballots.

On December 19, 2023, the ACLU, ACLU of Ohio, and Covington & Burling challenged a provision in an Ohio law, HB 458, that impacts how voters who have disabilities can cast absentee ballots. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Ohio and an individual voter.

HB 458 makes it a felony for any person who is not an election official or mail carrier to possess or return the absentee ballot of voters—including voters with disabilities—unless the person assisting that voter falls within a list of statutorily enumerated relatives.

Plaintiffs argued that these restrictions on voter assistance violate Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act by creating an unlawful burden on the right to vote for many Ohioans with disabilities. For example, many voters with disabilities who are unable to travel to their polling place are also unable to access their mailbox or a drop box, and many of these voters lack one of the “approved” relatives to mail or drop off their ballot for them. The law also criminalizes the critical work of community members and voter assistance organizations like the League of Women Voters of Ohio that assist voters who rely on the assistance of others to cast a ballot. Additionally, the lawsuit asserts that by failing to define what it means to “possess” or “return” the absentee ballot of another, the challenged provisions are unconstitutionally vague, in violation of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

In January of 2024, the Republican National Committee and the Ohio Republican Party also moved to intervene in the case, and the court allowed the intervention by order on February 6, 2024. The case is pending.

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