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Sixth Circuit Lifts Ohio Order Requiring Election Observers

CINCINNATI (CN) - The 6th Circuit stayed a temporary restraining order granted to Ohio Republicans who insist that state officials must provide election observers during the absentee voting period, as part of the GOP strategy to tamp down the number of absentee voters in the Nov. 4 election.

The Ohio Republican Party sued Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, challenging her directive allowing Ohioans to register and cast an absentee ballot on the same day. She gave voters a five-day window, from Sept. 30 through Oct. 6, in which to both register and vote.

Republicans said voters must be registered at least 30 days in order to cast absentee ballots. They also challenged an advisory, issued on Sept. 23, addressing "whether Ohio law provides for election observers during the 35-day period for in-person absentee voting at boards of elections' offices or other designated sites."

The advisory concluded that state law mandates election observers on Election Day, but not during the 35-day period.

Republicans successfully sought a restraining order preventing enforcement of the advisory, claiming the lack of observers could lead to voter intimidation. Brunner responded with an emergency motion to stay the order.

Judge Moore ruled that Brunner's motion should be granted, because federal courts lack jurisdiction to enjoin state officials on the basis of state law.

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