Thursday, October 18, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court denies Ohio voting case

U. S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan denied Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's request, Tuesday, to overturn or put on hold lower federal court rulings authorizing early voting on the final Saturday through Monday before Election Day. (Here)

"A protracted legal battle began last spring," a article yesterday morning said backgrounding the multiple cases' histories, "when the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature eliminated early in-person voting on the final weekend before the election as part of what they billed an election reform package. Democrats, however, called it a voter suppression effort aimed at tilting the political playing field toward Republicans.

"After more than 300,000 signatures were collected to place a referendum on the ballot aimed at overturning the measure, Statehouse Republicans -- not wanting an issue on the November ballot that could galvanize Democrats perhaps as much as the presidential race -- repealed most of the proposed changes. But the elimination of early voting on the final Saturday through Monday before the election stayed in place, except for military members and Americans living abroad.

"That prompted a lawsuit by the Obama campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the state Democratic Party in which they argued that the plan violated non-military voters’ constitutional rights.

"U.S. District Judge Peter Economus sided with the Democratic groups and reinstated early voting during the three-day period, saying that different voting schedules for different groups of voters posed significant legal questions. (Here) The Cincinnati-based U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Economus’ ruling, stressing that early voting restrictions would be especially harmful to women, minorities, older voters and those with lower incomes and less education. While military voters deserve expanded voting hours because of the nature of their jobs and uncertainty over deployment, 'we see no corresponding justification for giving others less time,' the 6th Circuit said." (Here)

Secretary of State Husted appealed that decision last week to the U.S. Supreme Court, with military groups and attorneys general from 15 states joining his attempt to block the 6th Circuit decision. The appeals court ruling, they argued, "raised significant constitutional red flags" and impinged on Ohio officials' right to establish their own voting procedures.

Receiving Kagan's decision, Husted set uniform early voting hours for the three days in all 88 Ohio counties: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday.

Lyle Denniston at SotusBlog had a post with more information as well as links to articles in other major publications.

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