Sunday, February 5, 2012

Federal Lawsuit Faults Ohio for Disfranchising Thousands of Eligible Voters

CINCINNATI, OH - August 17 - The Prison Reform Advocacy Center (PRAC) filed suit in federal court today in an effort to remedy the disfranchisement of thousands of eligible voters statewide. The suit asks that 100,000 people with felony convictions in Ohio be given immediate notice of their voting rights so they can register before the October 4th deadline for the November 2, 2004 election.
Ohio law gives people with felony convictions the right to vote once released from incarceration, regardless of whether they are on parole, probation, or any other form of community supervision. A study released by PRAC two weeks ago, available at, found that Ohio elections officials’ knowledge of this law varies widely by region. Specifically, PRAC found that twenty-one boards of election, including the one located in Cincinnati, tell eligible voters that they cannot vote while on probation or parole.
While the number of people with felony convictions who have been misinformed regarding their voting rights is unknown, PRAC’s study conservatively estimated that 20% of the 34,000 Ohioans currently on community supervision, or approximately 7,000 people, have been harmed. To correct the problem PRAC proposes that all people with previous felony convictions released from prison during the past five years, approximately 100,000 individuals, be provided accurate notice of how, where and by when to register for the November 2nd election.
“The relief we propose is the only way to ensure that all people with felony convictions who have been harmed receive timely and accurate information about their voting rights. We are asking that the court act quickly because time is of the essence,” said David Singleton, PRAC’s Executive Director. “This segment of voters in Ohio could very well make the difference in this year’s presidential race,” Singleton added.
"The Ohio survey proves that people are losing their right to vote every day by receiving misinformation from officials who do not understand the law," said Deborah Goldberg, Democracy Program Director at the Brennan Center for Justice. "To make democracy a reality, officials in Ohio must cure their mistakes and help to educate voters about their rights--as they have begun to do in New York, where a similar survey demonstrated similar problems."
The Brennan Center is part of the Right to Vote Campaign, a national effort dedicated to ending felony disfranchisement laws which deny the right to vote to 4.7 million Americans, overwhelmingly African American and including over 500,000 veterans and almost 700,000 women (
PRAC filed the suit on behalf of C.U.R.E.–Ohio and the Racial Fairness Project, grassroots organizations active in registering former Ohio felons to vote. The complaint names Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell and 21 County of Boards of Elections, including the Hamilton County Board of Election.

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*all times Eastern US (GMT-5:00)
AUGUST 17, 2004
11:26 AM CONTACT: Prison Reform Advocacy Center
David Singleton, (513) 421-110

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