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Illinois Attorney General
Kwame Raoul

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May 28, 2024

Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul today, as part of a coalition of seven attorneys general, filed an amicus brief supporting Ohio voters challenging a state law that makes it a crime to help others return absentee and mail-in ballots in most situations. The law makes it a felony to return or possess another voter’s absentee or mail-in ballot, with narrow exceptions for postal workers or certain family members. The law will make it more difficult for millions of people – especially those with disabilities – to vote.

In their amicus brief filed in League of Women Voters of Ohio v. LaRose, Raoul and the coalition are supporting a challenge to the law filed by a voting rights organization and an Ohio voter with a degenerative disease, who allege that these restrictions violate multiple legal protections for voters with disabilities, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and the Voting Rights Act.

“Ohio’s voting restrictions limit the ability of individuals with disabilities to have their voices heard in our democracy and do nothing to improve election security,” Raoul said. “Voting is a fundamental right of every American, and I will continue to oppose efforts to disenfranchise voters’ access to the ballot box.”

Raoul and the coalition argue that the Ohio law should be struck down because it harms voters with disabilities, is out of step with the law of most states and with federal law and does little to increase election security.

Specifically, Raoul and the coalition argue that the law:

  • Harms voters with disabilities. By limiting who can return a voter’s ballot, Ohio’s law makes it more difficult for anyone to vote, but the law will affect voters with disabilities the most. Individuals with disabilities who vote by mail frequently report receiving help from individuals, but, under Ohio’s law, many of those individuals would no longer qualify to provide voter assistance. A US Election Commission Survey found that for voters with disabilities who required assistance returning ballots in 2022, 20.6% of those voters were helped by a friend or neighbor, 11.3% were helped by a non-family roommate, and 13.8% used another, unclassified person for assistance (this could include home health aides or volunteers). Under Ohio’s law, all of these voters would be disenfranchised.
  • Is out of step with nearly every other state. Ohio’s law is one of the most inflexible absentee voting laws in the country. The law makes it a fourth-degree felony to return or possess another voter’s ballot unless they are a postal worker or an “authorized relative” of that voter, which is limited to a specific, narrow list of people. Many states allow any absentee voter to designate another adult of their choice to return their ballot, within other broader limits. And states that limit who can return absentee ballots, like Texas and Iowa, have carve-outs that provide more options for voters with disabilities.
  • Creates obstacles to voting and does not improve election security. Absentee voting – like all voting – is rarely fraudulent, and states have many options to protect election integrity without creating discriminatory obstacles to casting a ballot. A recent analysis documented only 491 cases of absentee ballot fraud from 2000 to 2012 among billions of ballots cast across the U.S. Voter fraud is not more prevalent in states that impose fewer ballot-collection restrictions, and criminal and civil penalties already exist to deter and punish voter fraud.

Joining Raoul in filing today’s brief are the attorneys general of Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey and New York.