Obama campaign blitzes Ohio bars to court early voters

The Ohio Supreme Court is expected to rule Monday on whether voting can begin Tuesday.

COLUMBUS (AP) — Democrat Barack Obama’s presidential campaign blitzed bars, and advocates for the homeless have lined up vans to ferry potential voters from shelters.

The prize could be thousands of traditionally elusive voters in hard-fought Ohio who would have the chance to register and vote on the same day — if the courts don’t intervene.

One-stop voting, scheduled for Tuesday through Oct. 6, would be especially convenient for those Democratic-leaning voters who have traditionally had trouble getting to the polls. It’s a reality not lost on two parties locked in a tight race four years after President Bush’s 118,000-vote victory in Ohio gave him a second term.

“The populations that we focus on, the lower income and minority populations, move more often,” said Teresa James, an attorney working in northeast Ohio for Project Vote, which pushes for greater voting participation. “They’re also more likely to have jobs that aren’t flexible in terms of voting.”

Ohio is one of more than 30 states that allow voters to cast an early ballot. Eight states allow voters to register and vote on Election Day, Nov. 4, while North Carolina allows the practice during early voting.

Turnout has been 10 percent to 17 percent higher than the national average in the six states that had same-day registration and voting before 2006, as well as in North Dakota (which doesn’t have voter registration), according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Ohio’s early voting period has sparked several lawsuits, including one by two GOP-backed voters who say the six-day period in which voters can register and vote on the same day is illegal. That lawsuit is before the Republican-dominated Ohio Supreme Court, which is expected to rule Monday.

Republican John McCain’s campaign didn’t directly address whether it had plans to take advantage of the early voting window.

Read the full story Monday in The Vindicator and on Vindy.com

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