Judge Watson

Thanks to U.S. District Court of Southern Ohio Judge Michael Watson, the voting public should have more days to cast their ballots. On Tuesday, May 24, Judge Watson ruled that Ohio violated voters’ rights by reducing the number of days included in “early voting.” In 2014, Ohio cut early voting from 35 to 28 days and eliminated the “Golden Week” when citizens can both register to vote and cast a ballot. Judge Watson deemed this “unconstitutional” and decided it violated the Voting Rights Act.

Judge Watson’s opinion rejected Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s contentions that cutting early voting was necessary to prevent fraud and voter confusion. The Judge stated that the shorter early voting period would instead cause longer lines at the polls and potentially deter would-be voters.

The early voting reduction would also result in “less opportunity for African Americans to participate in the voting process,” Judge Watson wrote. He sided with the NAACP and ACLU, stating that the Golden Week and early voting significantly benefit African Americans more than other voters.

Free Press Editor Bob Fitrakis praises the judgement, “The easier we make voting, the more we expand true democracy. Early voting allows those historically discriminated against to easily cast a vote. Judge Watson in the finest tradition of Lincoln Republicans, has re-established the right of the people to have government of, by and for the people.”

The Free Press salutes Judge Watson for standing up to those who want to suppress voting and for defending our democracy!

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