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Ohio: federal court throws out new voter registration rules

AP reports: A federal judge threw out new state rules governing voter registration drives on Friday, saying they appear to violate the First Amendment and are hurting efforts to sign up new voters.

U.S. District Judge Kathleen O'Malley issued an order from the bench immediately halting the enforcement of the registration rules, saying they appeared to be unconstitutional. She said she planned to issue a detailed written order sometime next week.

A coalition of voter advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers sued the state, asking O'Malley to throw out the regulations, which they claimed would hurt their registration drives because the rules carry potential criminal penalties. ...

The judge said that, in light of her ruling, voters should ignore the references to the criminal penalties on forms used to sign up new voters. She gave the secretary of state's office five days to remove references to the rules and penalties on its Web site. -- Ohio voter registration rules thrown out

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