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· October 9, 2012

Husted to appeal weekend voting ruling to US Supreme Court

There has been a major development in the fight over early voting that will send a new Ohio law to the US Supreme Court. Over the past month, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has been fighting a lawsuit challenging a new Ohio law that prohibits voting on the final three days before an election to all but military voters. Opponents argued the law, passed by a GOP majority in the Ohio legislature, arbitrarily elevates the voting rights of one class of voters over all others, and two federal courts have agreed. After Husted’s latest defeat in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, where a three-judge panel restored the right to open the polls to County Boards of Elections, Husted — instead of issuing a directive ordering county boards to open — has apparently gone the other way. Citing what he called a “stunning ruling” that called for equal treatment of all voters by granting discretion to county boards to open on the final weekend, Husted announced he would appeal the ruling to the United States Supreme Court. If Husted is concerned, as he has often claimed, about uniformity of access to the polls across Ohio’s 88 Counties, a more direct approach would have been for him to issue a directive setting standard hours for all County Boards. Instead, Husted has elected to delay further, elevating the matter to the highest court in the land, and continuing the standoff over when in-person early voting in Ohio will end. As we noted yesterday, a new study shows that in-person early voting is disproportionately favored by African-American voters, who typically favor Democrats. The federal appeals court spoke of the benefits of weekend voting in its ruling, observing that voters may not be able to vote during weekday hours or on election day because of work schedules. Those voters are still in limbo today as a result of Husted’s actions.

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