|Project Vote v. Madison County Board of Elections|
In this lawsuit, Project Vote sought a temporary restraining order against the Madison County Board of Elections, which had announced that it would not permit same day registration and absentee voting during the five-day window that it is available in Ohio. In order to vote in the November 4, 2008 federal general election, a prospective Ohio voter must have registered by Monday, October 6, 2008. Absentee voting for general elections began on September 30, 2008. During the week from September 30 to October 6, a prospective Ohio voter could simultaneously register to vote and request an absentee ballot. Seeing the potential for confusion, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner issued Directive 2008-63, which explicitly required the county boards of election to allow same-day registration and absentee voting in that five day time period.
The Madison County Board of Elections, on advice from the county prosecutor, decided to disregard Directive 2008-63 and not to allow prospective voters to both register to vote and request an absentee ballot during that time frame. At the same time, two individual voters, Rhonda L. Colvin and C. Douglas Moody sought a writ of mandamus to override Secretary of State Brunner’s directive and prohibit newly registered voters from receiving an absentee ballot until after they have been registered to vote for 30 days. Had the writ been granted, any voter who registered close to the October 6, 2008 registration deadline would have been unable to vote absentee at all, whether during the 5-day window or any other time prior to November 4, 2008.
On September 29, the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Ohio granted Project Vote’s request for a temporary restraining order and required the Madison County Board of Elections to allow prospective voters to register to vote and request an absentee ballot simultaneously. That same day, the Ohio Supreme Court issued an opinion in the Colvin and Moody case that denied plaintiff’s motion for a writ and affirmed the validity of Directive 2008-63. Also on that same day, in Ohio Republican Party v. Brunner, the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Ohio denied the Ohio Republican Party’s motion to prohibit enforcement of Directive 2008-63.
Ultimately, Project Vote filed a motion to dismiss without prejudice in light of the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision and after the official election results showed that ballots cast by voters during the September 30 to October 6 window had been honored.
Ohio Supreme Court Opinion, Colvin v Brunner. September 29, 2008.
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