Supreme Court rejects GOP argument on Ohio

SUPREME COURT REJECTS GOP ARGUMENT ON OHIO…. A welcome ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court this afternoon.

The Supreme Court sided Friday with Ohio’s top elections official in a dispute with the state Republican Party over voter registrations.

The justices overruled a federal appeals court that had ordered Ohio’s top elections official to do more to help counties verify voter eligibility.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, faced a deadline of Friday to set up a system to provide local officials with names of newly registered voters whose driver’s license numbers or Social Security numbers on voter registration forms don’t match records in other government databases.

Ohio Republicans, spurred by a manufactured ACORN controversy, want state officials to compare the 666,000 newly registered voters against data collected by the state DMV. According to the Secretary of State’s office, about 200,000 of the new voters show at least some kind of discrepancy — out of nearly two dozen categories — some as minor as the misspelling of a name.

Today’s ruling, therefore is a big win, clears the way for those new voters to cast a ballot, and prevents broad disenfranchisement. It’s worth noting, however, that the high court did not rule on the merits of the Help America Vote Act with regard to requirements for verifying voter eligibility, but rather, ruled that the Ohio Republican Party lacked standing to bring the case.

Either way, Republican efforts to block new voters from participating in the election was dealt a significant blow.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.