Ohio Election Rules in Limbo a Week Before Vote

Challenges and lawsuits over balloting continue in Ohio, where a federal judge is set to hear arguments over key parts of the state's new election-reform law.

The changes were aimed at solving the voting problems that arose during the 2004 presidential election. But last week, a federal judge ruled that the state's new voting rules are "vague." A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday to determine whether voter identification will still be required on Election Day.

After the judge suspended voter identification requirements for absentee voters, Ohio's Secretary of State — and Republican gubernatorial candidate — Ken Blackwell said he didn't want to fight the court order because it would add to voters' confusion.

But Blackwell's opponent in the May primary, Attorney General Jim Petro, ignored Blackwell's wishes and filed an appeal anyway.

Petro won a battle last weekend, when a federal appeals court overruled the action putting ID requirements for absentee ballots on hold. That marked the second court ruling on election protocol in just one week.

But some Ohioans think the new law itself is causing more problems than it's solving. Some say that if the identification rules are enacted, the requirement could re-create the long lines that kept some voters from the polls back in 2004.

Many polls suggest that the Republican Party's domination of Ohio politics could be coming to an end. But the state remains a contentious political battleground — and the legal tussle over voter ID requirements seems only to be fanning the partisan flames.

Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports.

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