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Case Name League of Women Voters of Ohio v. LaRose VR-OH-0084
Docket / Court 2:20-cv-01638 ( S.D. Ohio )
State/Territory Ohio
Case Type(s) Election/Voting Rights
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization ACLU Affiliates (any)
Lawyers Comm. for Civil Rights Under Law
Case Summary
NOTE: This case is being tracked in close to real time by the Stanford/MIT Healthy Elections Project. So for more current information, see their tracker.
COVID-19 Summary: This lawsuit was filed on March 30 by two non- ... read more >
NOTE: This case is being tracked in close to real time by the Stanford/MIT Healthy Elections Project. So for more current information, see their tracker.
COVID-19 Summary: This lawsuit was filed on March 30 by two non-profit organizations and four voter plaintiffs against the Secretary of State of Ohio to challenge an election bill enacted in response to COVID-19. The plaintiffs sought preliminary injunctive relief and a TRO, which were both denied on April 3. The parties stipulated to dismiss the case, and the case was dismissed without prejudice on April 20.


On March 30, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, Ohio's A. Philip Randolph Institute, and four individual voters filed a lawsuit against the Secretary of State of Ohio to challenge the enactment of House Bill 197, including the refusal to extend voter registration deadline and the limitations of absentee voting. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 52 U.S.C. § 20507. Specifically, they sought injunctive relief requiring the defendant to extend the voter registration application to thirty days prior to the new election date, to mail absentee ballots to all registered voters at least twenty-one days before the closing of polls, and to allow in-person voting, among other requested remedies. The plaintiffs were represented by The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio Foundation, Lawyer’s Committee For Civil Rights Under Law, Demos, and private attorneys. The case was filed at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, and assigned to Judge Michael H. Watson.

In March, Governor Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency in response to COVID-19 and the Ohio Department of Health ordered polling stations to be closed the day before the March primaries. On March 27, the defendant issued Directive 2020-06 under House Bill 197, which suspended in-person voting and imposed a multi-step mailing process for absentee voting. The House Bill also moved the primary election date to April 28. However, the plaintiffs noted that the defendant did not extend the voter registration deadline, which passed on February 18, although the date for the primary elections was moved.

The plaintiffs alleged that the multi-step vote-by-mail process posed an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The plaintiffs argued that the vote-by-mail process was confusing and impossible for election officials and voters to complete in time before the election concluded, and therefore deprived the Ohio voters of their fundamental right to vote. The plaintiffs also alleged that by prohibiting the processing of voter registration applications after February 28, the directive violated the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which requires the registration to be available thirty days before any election for federal office.

On March 31, the plaintiffs filed an emergency motion for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). The complaint was amended to fix small errors a few days later.

The plaintiffs submitted a motion for a preliminary injunction on April 1, seeking to enjoin the defendants from enforcement of Ohio's February 18, 2020 registration deadline, require the defendants to set a registration deadline that is no more than 30 days before the date of the primary election and to conduct that election no later than May 12, 2020, as well as an order requiring the defendants to either bear the full costs associated with obtaining and voting ballots, or alternatively provide some reasonable alternative like "no excuse" in person voting before the close of the election to allow voters to cast their ballots at no cost. The same day, the State of Ohio and the Ohio Democratic Party moved to intervene defendants on April 1, which was granted that day. The next day, the Ohio Republication Party moved to intervene as a defendant and the Libertarian Party of Ohio moved to intervene as a plaintiff, both of which were granted.

The Honest Elections Project and Disability Rights Ohio filed amicus briefs on April 2 and April 3 respectively. Disability Rights Ohio argued that those with disabilities face a unique challenge as they have a higher risk of contracting the virus and a higher risk for complications from the virus. They urged the court to grant the plaintiff’s motion for TRO, arguing that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires the defendants to conduct elections in a manner that allows equal access for those with disabilities. The defendants submitted a response to the emergency TRO, listing the many steps they had taken to try to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 and argued that the plaintiffs failed to show that Bill 197 violated the constitution or the NVRA and that their proposed remedies are unworkable. On April 3, the court denied the motion for preliminary injunction and TRO in favor of the defendants, reasoning that “[t]he Constitution does not require the best plan, just a lawful one . . . the Court will not declare the Ohio Legislature’s unanimous bill to be unconstitutional simply because other options may have been better.” The parties stipulated to dismiss the case, and the case was dismissed without prejudice on April 20 with each party bearing their own attorney fees.

Averyn Lee - 09/30/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
COVID-19
Mitigation Denied
Mitigation Requested
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Disability
disability, unspecified
General
Voting
Voting access
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Voting
Election administration
Voter qualifications
Voter registration rules
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Secretary of State of Ohio
Plaintiff Description the League of Women Voters of Ohio, Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute, and four individual voters
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Affiliates (any)
Lawyers Comm. for Civil Rights Under Law
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 03/30/2020
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  League of Women Voters Of Ohio v. Larose
The Ohio State University College of Law
Date: May 26, 2020
By: The Ohio State University College of Law
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  League of Women Voters of Ohio v. LaRose
Demos
Date: May 7, 2020
By: Demos
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
S.D. Ohio
04/20/2020
2:20-cv-01638-MHW-EDP
VR-OH-0084-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D. Ohio
03/30/2020
Complaint [ECF# 1]
VR-OH-0084-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ohio
03/31/2020
Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Proposed Order and Memorandum in Support [ECF# 4]
VR-OH-0084-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ohio
03/31/2020
Order [ECF# 14]
VR-OH-0084-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ohio
04/02/2020
Intervenor-Defendant Ohio Republican Party's Memorandum Opposing Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 43]
VR-OH-0084-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ohio
04/02/2020
Defendant Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose's Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (Doc. 4) [ECF# 44]
VR-OH-0084-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ohio
04/02/2020
Proposed Answer of Intervenor-Defendant Ohio Democratic Party [ECF# 47]
VR-OH-0084-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ohio
04/02/2020
Intervenor Defendant Ohio Democratic Party's Memorandum in Partial Support and Partial Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 48]
VR-OH-0084-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ohio
04/02/2020
Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction Requested [ECF# 49]
VR-OH-0084-0008.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ohio
04/02/2020
Proposed Answer of Intervenor-Defendant, Ohio Republican Party, to Amended Complaint [ECF# 50]
VR-OH-0084-0009.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ohio
04/02/2020
Brief of the Honest Elections Project as Amicus Curiae in Support of Defendants [ECF# 51]
VR-OH-0084-0010.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ohio
04/02/2020
Defendant State of Ohio's Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 52]
VR-OH-0084-0011.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ohio
04/03/2020
Intervenor-Plaintiff Libertarian Party of Ohio's Reply to Defendants' Response to Motion for Emergency Relief [ECF# 53]
VR-OH-0084-0012.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ohio
04/03/2020
Opinion and Order [ECF# 57]
VR-OH-0084-0015.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ohio
04/03/2020
Brief of Amicus Curiae Disability Rights Ohio in Support of Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 58]
VR-OH-0084-0013.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ohio
04/03/2020
Plaintiffs' Reply Memorandum in Support of Their Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 59]
VR-OH-0084-0014.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ohio
05/22/2020
Opinion and Order [ECF# 50] (2020 WL 2614447)
VR-OH-0084-0016.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Deavers, Elizabeth Preston Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-9000
Sargus, Edmund A. Jr. (S.D. Ohio) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0016
Watson, Michael H. (S.D. Ohio) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0003 | VR-OH-0084-0015 | VR-OH-0084-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Awan, Naila S (New York) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0001 | VR-OH-0084-0002 | VR-OH-0084-0014 | VR-OH-0084-9000
Bains, Chiraag (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0001 | VR-OH-0084-0002 | VR-OH-0084-0014 | VR-OH-0084-9000
Brown, Mark R. (Ohio) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0008 | VR-OH-0084-0012 | VR-OH-0084-9000
Carey, David J. (Ohio) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0001 | VR-OH-0084-0002 | VR-OH-0084-0014 | VR-OH-0084-9000
Chaudhuri, Pooja (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0001 | VR-OH-0084-0002 | VR-OH-0084-0014 | VR-OH-0084-9000
Conarck, Jacob (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0001 | VR-OH-0084-0002 | VR-OH-0084-0014 | VR-OH-0084-9000
Gordon-Marvin, Emerson (New York) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0001 | VR-OH-0084-0002 | VR-OH-0084-9000
Greenbaum, Jon M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0001 | VR-OH-0084-0002 | VR-OH-0084-0014 | VR-OH-0084-9000
Levenson, Freda J. (Ohio) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0001 | VR-OH-0084-0002 | VR-OH-0084-0014 | VR-OH-0084-9000
Lioz, Adam (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0001 | VR-OH-0084-0002 | VR-OH-0084-0014 | VR-OH-0084-9000
Rosenberg, Ezra D (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0001 | VR-OH-0084-0002 | VR-OH-0084-0014 | VR-OH-0084-9000
Wright, Brenda (New York) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0001 | VR-OH-0084-0002 | VR-OH-0084-0014
Defendant's Lawyers Clinger, Derek S (Ohio) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0006 | VR-OH-0084-0007 | VR-OH-0084-9000
Lockshaw, David A (Ohio) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0005 | VR-OH-0084-9000
McTigue, Donald Joseph (Ohio) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0006 | VR-OH-0084-0007 | VR-OH-0084-9000
O'Donnell, Terrence (Ohio) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0005
Pfeiffer, Julie M (Ohio) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0011 | VR-OH-0084-9000 | VR-OH-0084-9000
Secrest, Jonathan Rea (Ohio) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0005 | VR-OH-0084-9000
Sferra, Anne Marie (Ohio) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0004 | VR-OH-0084-0009 | VR-OH-0084-9000
Slagle, Christopher N. (Ohio) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0004 | VR-OH-0084-0009 | VR-OH-0084-9000
West, Nathaniel Zachary (Ohio) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0006 | VR-OH-0084-0007 | VR-OH-0084-9000
Yackshaw, Ann (Ohio) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0011 | VR-OH-0084-9000 | VR-OH-0084-9000
Yost, Dave (Ohio) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0011
Other Lawyers Keys, Julie G. (Ohio) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0013 | VR-OH-0084-9000
Polio, Dennis W. (Virginia) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0010
Stuckey, Jason R. (Ohio) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0010 | VR-OH-0084-9000
Torchinsky, Jason Brett (Virginia) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0010
Truitt, Kevin J. (Ohio) show/hide docs
VR-OH-0084-0013 | VR-OH-0084-9000

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