Judge Orders 3 Early Voting Days Restored In Ohio

FILE - In this Oct. 29, 2012 file photo a "Vote Early" sign is held up by supporters at a rally for President Barack Obama in Youngstown, Ohio. In key swing states this year, Democrats who want to expand early voting... FILE - In this Oct. 29, 2012 file photo a "Vote Early" sign is held up by supporters at a rally for President Barack Obama in Youngstown, Ohio. In key swing states this year, Democrats who want to expand early voting and Republicans who want to limit it, are battling to gain even the slightest electoral advantages by tinkering with the times, dates and places where people can vote early. Ohio's Republican-controlled legislature has taken recent steps, which are being challenged by both the American Civil Liberties Union and the U.S. Justice Department, to curtail early voting on weekends. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File) MORE LESS
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A federal judge ordered Ohio’s elections chief Wednesday to restore the final three days of in-person, early voting in the swing state in a ruling that gives Democrats a victory going into the fallelection.

The order from U.S. District Judge Peter Economus comes in a long-running dispute that began before the last presidential election. The fight was especially intense because of Ohio’s role as a swing state rich with electoral votes.

President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and Democrats filed a lawsuit in July 2012 against the state’selections chief over an Ohio law that cuts off in-person, early voting for most residents three days beforeElection Day.

The state law, passed in 2011, ends in-person voting on the Friday evening before a Tuesday election. But it allows an exception for military and overseas voters to cast a ballot in person until Monday. Democrats claimed that amounted to unequal treatment of voters and said everyone should have the chance to vote on the three days before Election Day.

Ohio voters may cast an absentee ballot by mail or in person before Election Day without giving any reason.

Economus had granted Democrats a temporary order in August 2012 that allowed voting to occur on the final three days before the November presidential election.

The two sides had been unable to resolve the litigation.

The federal court in Columbus had set a trial date, though the Democrats had sought a summary judgment from the court.

For the past three years, Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, pressed state lawmakers to put the hours and days for early voting into law. But the GOP-controlled Legislature has not adopted any plan.

In absence of legislative action, Husted set early voting times for the statewide elections this fall. He used a proposal from the bipartisan Ohio Association of Election Officials. Of the three days at issue in the lawsuit, voters can cast an early ballot only on the Saturday before the coming Nov. 4 election.

Economus said in his ruling that Husted’s directive does not include two of the days at issue in the lawsuit or address the constitutional issues in the law. He said it cannot serve as a remedy.

He said the court requires Husted “to set uniform and suitable in-person early voting hours for all eligible voters for the three days preceding all future elections.”

The court declined to mandate hours, noting that voter turnout is lower in years without presidential elections.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Notable Replies

  1. “fallelection?”

    Now that’s a typo.

  2. Husted is still hurt he could not find a way to give Karl Rove what he wanted in 2012. Husted needs to go.

  3. Husted has succeeded in confusing the electorate that may avail themselves to early voting. He will try something else closer to the election.

  4. In my opinion, this should be the lead story on TOM. I am so sick to death of the Cantor story. Let’s move on. Enough is enough.

  5. This is the seat Nina Turner is running for. She’d be fabulous! She’d expand early voting and put more precincts in inner city neighborhoods.

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