Supreme Court’s Ohio Early Voting Decision Boosts Obama

The Supreme Court decided on Tuesday to let a lower court’s ruling on early voting in Ohio stand, a move that will let all voters in the state cast their ballots during the three-day period before the election. If 2008 is any indication, the decision could be a major boost for President Barack Obama.In a one sentence order, the Supreme Court declined to reevaluate a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that found Ohio must restore early voting leading up to Election Day for all voters if it was available to some.

The Obama campaign sued after Ohio Republicans passed legislation that canceled the early voting days for everyone except members of military and voters who live overseas.

The voting days were widely used during the 2008 general election. A study of early voting in Cuyahoga County found that 77 percent of early in-person ballots were cast by African Americans. An estimated 100,000 Ohio voters are expected to cast a ballot during the three days this year.

Obama campaign lawyer Bob Bauer said in a statement the Supreme Court decision was an important victory.

“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,” Bauer said. “We now turn our full attention to educating Ohio voters on when and how they can vote along with presenting the clear choice they face when selecting their next President.”

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) announced early voting hours shortly after the decision. The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 3 and Nov. 5 and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 4.

“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,” Husted said in a statement. “However, the time has come to set aside the issue for this election.”

Husted said the new early voting hours would give Ohio voters “the same opportunities to vote in the upcoming presidential election regardless of what county they live in.”