The U.S. Supreme Court has declined a request from Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to get involved in the battle over early voting on the three days leading up to Election Day. The decision will make voting easier for hundreds of thousands of Ohioans.
President Obama’s campaign had joined Ohio Democrats to sue the state over changes to Ohio law that allowed voting on those three days for military voters, but not for anyone else in the state. Thanks to a rule instituted by Husted, a Republican, earlier this year, county election boards had been forbidden to open polling places on weekends. Husted even went so far as to fire two officials from Montgomery county who dared to try to let voters in their county cast their ballots on weekends.
Because of all this, Ohio voters only had access to the polls on weekdays, even though nearly 100,000 voters—disproportionately African-Americans—cast ballots in those three days leading up to the election in 2008. Many African-Americans customarily vote en masse after church on the Sunday before the election—a tradition known as Souls to the Polls.
The Romney campaign even got involved with the battle, when they falsely claimed that Pres. Obama and his campaign were trying to impede voting rights for servicemen and women. That charge ignored the fact that the Obama campaign was asking for early voting to be restored for everyone, not scrapped for service-members.
A lower court found earlier this month in favor of the Obama campaign, ruling that “while there is a compelling reason to provide more opportunities for military voters to cast their ballots, there is no corresponding satisfactory reason to prevent non-military voters from casting their ballots as well.”
Obama for America released the following statement from General Counsel Bob Bauer in reaction to today’s Supreme Court announcement:
We are pleased that the US Supreme Court declined to overturn federal court rulings that every Ohioan be allowed to vote during the weekend and Monday before the election. 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. 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.
Update: Husted has issued a directive with uniform early voting hours for the last three days.
Saturday, November 3, 2012 – 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 4, 2012 – 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Monday, November 5, 2012 – 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.