But the story does not end there.
The Hamilton County election board — two Democrats, two Republicans — deadlocked on whether to count the votes or appeal the ruling. Enter Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, to break the tie and appeal Dlott’s decision back to the 6th Circuit.
“As Ohio’s chief elections officer, today I must stand on principle rather than expediency,” Husted said in a statement last week.
“I cannot and will not back down when it comes to our state’s right to administer elections, nor can I stand by while the federal government drops yet another conflicting standard on our doorsteps.”
When the case briefly reached the Supreme Court before, Williams argued that federal courts should get involved only when there is intentional discrimination at work, not simply mistakes by a local board.
Edward B. Foley, an Ohio State University law professor and election law expert who has closely followed the case, said Hunter v. Hamilton County is “the most developed application of Bush v. Gore” in the lower courts.
It doesn’t involve the mechanics of voting — hanging chads or butterfly ballots or long lines at the polls — but rather the essential question of “counting ballots after they have been cast,” Foley said.
Jennifer Branch, Hunter’s lawyer, said the suit relies on the equal protection claim that “is the hallmark of the Bush v. Gore decision.”
Since the election, Ohio’s Republican Gov. John Kasich has appointed Williams to fill a different seat on the juvenile court, which opened after a resignation. Williams must run in November to serve the remainder of the term — and since the legal battle over the 2010 vote could take years to settle, Hunter is running against him.
It has been an “eye-opening experience” both politically and legally, Hunter said.
Fellow Democrats, she said, “find it very interesting that the outcome of my case hinges on the decision in that rather infamous election.”
For previous High Court columns, go to washingtonpost.com/fedpage.