The Ohio Secretary of State is going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to try to stop early voting from happening the weekend before the general election.
Early, in-person voting in Ohio begins 35 days before Election Day, and in May the legislature passed a provision that cut off early, in-person voting at the end of the day on the Friday before the election, except for those in the military. The stated purpose of the provision was to give election offices the necessary time to prepare for Election Day. But Democrats accused the Republican-controlled legislature of attempting to limit the voting of those most likely to vote for President Obama and the Democratic Party. The Obama campaign then sued to make early voting available to everyone the weekend before Election Day.
A district court found that the state law “likely” violated the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution, acknowledging an argument that “low-income and minority voters are disproportionately affected by elimination” of particular early voting days. Both the district and appellate level courts agreed with this arguments advanced by the Obama campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and the Ohio Democratic Party, and granted an injunction against the legislature’s provision to close the offices.
Secretary of State Jon Husted called the ruling ordering early voting “an unprecedented intrusion by the federal courts into how states run elections,” and that the injunction allows all “88 counties to have 88 different election policies”, which should be considered a violation of equal protection because voters would actually be treated differently.
Democrats estimated in their lawsuit that 93,000 people voted during the final three-day window before the 2008 election.
Husted mandated uniform early voting hours in all eighty-eight Ohio counties earlier this year, following an outcry over hours being expanded in Republican-leaning counties but not Democratic ones.