Holder on Supreme Court's Ohio early voting decision: A 'step backward'

Early voting is "about preserving access and openness for every eligible voter," AG Eric Holder says in a video message.

Story highlights

  • Eric Holder blasts the Supreme Court's ruling involving voting laws in Ohio
  • The law limits the state's 35 early voting window by seven days
  • He and other critics say the law disproportionately affects minorities
  • Proponents say it helps the state better line
A week after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of an Ohio law that restricts early voting, Attorney General Eric Holder argued the decision will disproportionately affect African-Americans, many of whom "heavily" use early voting.
"It is a major step backward to allow these reductions to early voting to go into effect," Holder said in a video message posted Monday.
"Early voting is about much more than making it more convenient for people to exercise their civic responsibilities. It's about preserving access and openness for every eligible voter, not just those who can afford to miss work or who can afford to pay for childcare," he continued in the video, which was posted on the Justice Department's website.
The law cut down the state's 35-day early voting window by seven days.
Proponents say that reducing in-person early voting would help create uniformity across the state's counties, and voters would still be able to vote by mail during that seven-day window.
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But critics argue the Republican-backed law will make it more difficult for minorities to vote.
While the Justice Department was not a part of the lawsuit, it filed a brief in the case in July.
A federal judge had previously said the law was unconstitutional and placed a hold on it so it couldn't go into effect. That decision was upheld by a federal appeals court judge. But the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision allowed for the law to go into effect immediately. Early voting in Ohio now official starts this week.
In his video message, Holder said early voting is "heavily used" by African-Americans because the practice is popular among people who have a hard time getting to the polls due to childcare responsibilities, hourly salaries, and reduced access to transportation.
"Restricting voting hours in ways that would disproportionately impact minority communities is not only unnecessary and unwarranted -- it is out of step with our history of continually expanding the franchise," he said. "It is contrary to our fundamental values of equality, opportunity, and inclusion. And it is an affront to millions who have marched, and fought, and too often died to make real America's most basic promise."
Holder announced late last month he'll soon be resigning from his post, but will stay on until a replacement has been confirmed.