Fifteen states and several military organizations announced their support for Ohio’s elections chief this evening in a dispute over early voting, which is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has appealed a lower court ruling that reinstates early voting on the three days before
Election Day and returns discretion to local boards of elections.
Husted also has asked the Supreme Court to delay the lower court’s decision while it decides whether to take the case.
The campaign of President Barack Obama, which sued the state over the early voting, says a new Ohio law unfairly ends early, in-person voting for most Ohioans on the Friday evening before the Tuesday election, while allowing military and overseas voters to cast a ballot in person until Monday.
Before the changes to the law, local boards of election had the discretion to set their own early, in-person voting hours on the days before the election. And in-person voting on the weekend varied among the state’s 88 counties.
Husted has argued that all counties should have the same early voting hours and be open on the same days.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week reinstated early voting on the final three days. But the three-judge panel also said local boards of elections would have the discretion to decide whether to allow voters to cast an early ballot on the weekend and Monday before Election Day — just as they could in 2008.
Attorneys general for 15 states said in a court filing tonight that the Constitution gives states exclusive power to set the time, place and manner for voting. They also said the appeals court overstated the significance of eliminating those days, since Ohio already provides 23 days for in-person or absentee early voting.
The states also say the lower court disregarded the special status of military voters.
The Obama campaign asked the Supreme Court today to deny Ohio’s appeal of the lower court’s ruling. The campaign said Husted has not shown a likelihood of success and the facts of the case are unique to Ohio without broad implication elsewhere.
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