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The Journal Gazette

Friday, November 08, 2019 12:10 pm

Judge: Pretrial inmates have same rights as other voters

Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A federal judge has ruled inmates awaiting trial must be given the same voting rights as other Ohio citizens.

The Columbus Dispatch reported U.S. District Judge Michael Watson ruled this week in a 2018 lawsuit filed against Ohio's secretary of state by two Montgomery County inmates. The lawsuit argues state law violates the U.S. Constitution by treating pretrial inmates differently than other voters.

Ohio law grants voters confined in hospitals by unforeseen medical emergencies until 3 p.m. Election Day to apply for an absentee ballot, while inmates have a deadline of noon the Saturday before an election.

The judge granted the lawsuit class-action status and ordered Secretary of State Frank LaRose not to impose different absentee ballot deadlines on inmates.

A LaRose spokeswoman said they're reviewing the ruling.