CLEVELAND, OH — Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio along with the Brennan Center, Lawyers’ Committee and the ACLU Voting Rights Project filed a lawsuit challenging a voter intimidation provision in Ohio law that unfairly burdens naturalized U.S. citizens.

“This law singles out one group of U.S. citizens and places an unfair extra burden on them to cast their ballot,” said ACLU of Ohio cooperating attorney Daniel P. Tokaji. “The principle that every eligible voter should have equal access to the vote is a keystone of democracy.”

Tokaji said the provision, a section of Ohio House Bill 3, would allow poll workers to inquire whether a voter is a naturalized citizen and require those voters to provide proof of naturalization. If voters cannot provide proof at the polling place, they may cast provisional ballots but must go to the Board of Elections with documentation within 10 days of the election.

According to legal papers filed by the groups today, allowing poll workers to challenge someone’s ability to vote based on where they were born will open the door to ethnic and racial profiling and will almost certainly discourage voting by racial minorities and other immigrant groups.

Among the plaintiffs in the case are community organizations including the Asian American Bar Association, the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Ohio and the Federation of India Community Associations. The lawsuit also names nearly 20 individuals who represent naturalized U.S. citizens from around the state, including community activists, doctors and lawyers.


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