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Legal battles over voter rules heat up in Ohio and Pennsylvania

A sign pointing towards a voting center.
A sign pointing towards a voting center.
kristin_a (Meringue Bake Shop)/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

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One of the recurring themes of the 2012 election season has been the debate over voter fraud and its existence. Republicans say yes and have generally been the ones to move on tightening voter laws, while Democrats say no and have moved to make voting as easy as possible.

The debate is being battled in dozens of court cases in states across the country, and there are likely to be more. Two of the most watched cases have been in the swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, both of which have appeals being heard this week.

In Ohio, early voting was restored and restrictive voter registration rules were stuck down - the case is under appeal at the Sixth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals and may go as far as the Supreme Court under emergency review. In Pennsylvania, the voter identification law was upheld by a state judge, and now the State Supreme Court will hear appeal arguments. Other states who’ve battled over voter laws this year are Texas, South Carolina, Florida, and Wisconsin.

The result remains to be seen, but as the election draws close, what effect could this have not only on the election, but on the voters? How are the courts likely to rule on these cases, and what could it mean for the future of the Voter Rights Act and federal oversight of state election practices?


Justin Levitt, Associate Professor of Law at Loyola Law School, specializing in election law

Heather Heidelbaugh, Co-Chair, Republican National Lawyers Association; Partner and attorney, Babst, Calland, Clements & Zomnir, P.C. in Pittsburgh; Councilwoman At-Large, Allegheny County (Pittsburgh)