Despite a last-minute appeal from Republicans, the US Supreme Court has denied a request to limit early voting for Ohio residents the weekend before the 2012 Presidential Election.
The Obama campaign had filed a law suit against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted in August of this year. Husted, a Republican, had planned on cutting off in-person early voting the weekend before the election while allowing members of the military to continue to vote the same weekend.
Last week the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a U.S. District Court ruling that the state could not limit early voting. Husted called the 6th Circuit's ruling an "unprecedented intrusion by federal judges into state elections that was illegal and impractical" according to a Reuters report. He refused to enforce the ruling and the state of Ohio appealed the case to the Supreme Court.
Ohio Republican leaders had said their reasoning for not allowing in-person early voting the weekend prior to the Nov. 6th election was to make it easier on election administrators. The 6th Circuit court however stated election administrators preferred to have early voting the weekend prior to the election. The court also stated that "proffered interest in smooth election administration" was not sufficient reason to block in person early voting.
An ABC News report stated that Ohio officials had argued in court briefs that: "It cannot seriously be argued. That any voter has been disenfranchised when Ohio still offers [non-military voters] 230 hours of in-person absentee voting, more than 750 hours of absentee voting by mail, and 13 hours of voting on Election Day.”
According to Politico, the Obama campaign lawsuit argued that a recent study showed nearly 105,000 Ohio voters voted in the three days before the 2008 election, and argued that everyone should be allowed to vote on those days. The campaign also contended that disallowing in person voting while allowing military or overseas voters the chance to vote amounted to unequal treatment.
The Supreme Court issued a one-sentence order on Tuesday denying the state's petition for a stay of the appeals court decision.
After the U.S. Supreme court refused to hear the appeal, Husted issued a statement which stated: “Despite the court’s decision today to deny our request for a stay, I firmly believe Ohio and its elected legislature should set the rules with respect to elections in Ohio, and not the federal court system. Today I have set uniform hours statewide, giving all Ohio voters the same opportunities to vote in the upcoming presidential election regardless of what county they live in.”ABC News quotes Ohio State University Moritz College of Law Edward B. Foley, an election law expert, as saying: "Now all voters in Ohio will have the opportunity to do in-person early voting, where they otherwise wouldn't have.That makes the availability of early voting look more like 2008 when roughly 100,000 voters took advantage of the early vote. Expectation of political scientists in general is that demographically the segment of the electorate that prefers in-person early voting is an urban community.”
The Obama campaign issued a stated which said: "This action from the highest court in the land marks the end of the road in our fight to ensure open voting this year for all Ohioans, including military, veterans, and overseas voters."