UPDATE: Golden Week? Fate of Ohio early voting period lies with Supreme Court

Update, again: The Supreme Court this week denied the Ohio Democrats' request for stay, effectively eliminating Golden Week for the 2016 election. The decision came from the full court, and there was no dissent in the order.


Update: The State of Ohio has filed their response to the petition currently pending at the Supreme Court, according to SCOTUS Blog. Ohio Secretary of State John Husted filed a brief yesterday urging the court to deny the emergency stay requested by the Ohio Democratic Party and uphold the Ohio law eliminating Golden Week. Husted argued that the law did not disproportionately impact African-Americans, citing the other opportunities for early voting that the state provides. He also asserted that reinstating Golden Week could cause voter confusion, create an additional burden on boards of elections and lead to voter fraud.

SCOTUS Blog reports that Justice Kagan could act on the petition alone, but is more likely to refer it to the whole court. Because of the time-sensitive nature of the issue, the court is likely to issue a decision soon.


With major elections quickly approaching, the existence of Ohio's Golden Week is still up in the air. Golden Week is a period of time when voters can both register to vote and cast their ballots in the same week. According to SCOTUS Blog, the Ohio legislature created it in 2004 as a response to long lines at polling places during that year's elections. In 2013, however, the legislature amended the early voting law, eliminating that week of early voting. Litigation surrounding the issue arose, which we covered here and here. This eventually resulted in a settlement agreement that did not restore Golden Week, but did re-institute more early voting hours.

The Ohio Democratic Party more recently challenged the law eliminating Golden Week, arguing that it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because it disproportionately affected African-Americans. A federal district court agreed with Ohio Democrats in May and enjoined enforcement of the law, effectively restoring Golden Week. In August, the 6th Circuit reversed, finding that Ohio had a generous early voting schedule and that the elimination of Golden Week only minimally impacted African-Americans.

The Ohio Democrats made an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court last week, asking for an order restoring Golden Week. Justice Elena Kagan has requested that the state of Ohio file a response by Thursday September 8.

Photo credit: Flickr user Tim Evanson.