COLUMBUS — The Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) released the following statement from Chairman David Pepper in response to Judge Michael Watson’s judgment and final order released today restoring “Golden Week” for Ohio voters, in a case brought by the ODP, Cuyahoga County Democratic Party and Montgomery County Democratic Party.
Judge Watson found that eliminating “Golden Week” imposed a disproportionate burden on African-American voters, and the judge’s order states that eliminating “Golden Week” was unconstitutional and a violation of the Voting Rights Act because of the burden it placed on African-American voters.
“Today’s decision is a huge win for Ohio voters, who will now have the original window for early voting restored, along with ability to register to vote and cast their ballot on the same day,” said Pepper. “In 2012, more than 80,000 Ohioans cast a ballot during ‘Golden Week,’ and of those, more than 14,000 were new or updated registrations.
“It’s a shame that once again our legislature, governor, attorney general and secretary of state cannot figure out how to abide by the constitutional rights of their own voters. The judge found no merit in any of their justifications for the burden they placed on African American voters. How many losses in court, and how many wasted tax dollars, are going to convince them to respect Ohioans’ right to vote?”
From the findings of fact:
“EIP [early in-person] voting in homogenous black blocks was 4.316 times higher than homogenous white blocks in 2008… 4.4476 times higher in 2012… usage rates of Golden Week specifically were far higher among African Americans than among whites in both 2008 and 2012… In other words, in 2008, for example, ‘the rate of voting early in person during golden week is three and a half times greater in homogenous black blocks than homogenous white blocks.’”