Ohio’s 2023 election integrity law requiring residents to present a form of ID when casting their ballots is constitutional, a federal court ruled on Monday.
Writing for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Judge Donald Nugent, a Clinton appointee, ruled that Democrat-backed groups provided no evidence to justify their claims that HB 458 places an undue “burden” on Ohioans and their ability to vote. Specifically, plaintiffs — a coalition of left-leaning groups like the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, the Ohio Federation of Teachers, the Ohio Alliance for Retired Americans, the Union Veterans Council, and a group called Civic Influencers — alleged that the law would “severely restrict Ohioans’ access to the polls – particularly those voters who are young, elderly, and black, as well as those serving in the military and others living abroad.” Plaintiffs’ suit was filed by a Democrat lawfare group founded by Marc Elias, a Democrat operative who helped spearhead the debunked Trump-Russia collusion hoax.
“[T]he Court finds that the challenged provisions of HB 458 are constitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments,” Nugent wrote, granting a summary judgment to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who was named as a defendant in the case, with the Ohio Republican Party listed as an intervenor-defendant. Defendants were backed by Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections (RITE), an election integrity legal group.
Signed into law last year by Gov. Mike DeWine, HB 458 requires Ohioans to provide a valid “Ohio driver’s license, state identification card, or interim identification form issued by the registrar of motor vehicles or a deputy registrar,” a U.S. military ID card, or a U.S. passport or passport card, in order to vote. The law also included provisions making the deadlines for requesting and returning absentee ballot earlier, eliminating the ability to vote in-person the Monday before Election Day, limiting the number of ballot drop boxes to one per county, and shortening the time period after Election Day in which a voter may “cure” their ballot.
In his Monday ruling, Nugent noted how the Elias Law Group was unable to provide evidence showing that the aforementioned provisions would “burden” an Ohioan’s ability vote in person or by mail and detailed how “the changes brought about by HB 458 make rather minor changes to Ohio’s voting laws, none of which meaningfully impacts anyone’s ability to vote under Ohio’s generous voting laws.” Meanwhile, LaRose “provided ample evidence that the changes to Ohio’s voting laws were enacted to help ensure and promote the smooth, prompt administration of elections, election security, and public confidence in elections.”
“Ohio is an example of why it is crucial to confront activists’ relentless efforts to undermine voting in America,” RITE President Derek Lyons said in a statement. “RITE is very proud to have helped defend Ohio’s important and commonsense election law.”
According to a local news outlet, it remains unclear whether plaintiffs will appeal the decision.