Election 2012: Early voting restored in Ohio
African American voters in Maryland. PHOTO/Rich Vary/NewsHour
A federal judge in Ohio on Friday granted a request from President Barack Obama’s campaign to give all voters in the swing state the option of casting their ballot in person during the three days before Election Day.
U.S. District Judge Peter Economus in Columbus issued a preliminary injunction in a case involving a state law that cuts off early voting for most residents on the Friday evening before a Tuesday election.
The judge’s ruling said that he expects Ohio’s elections chief to direct all county elections boards to maintain a specific, consistent schedule on those three days “in keeping with his earlier directive that only by doing so can he ensure that Ohio’s election process is ‘uniform, accessible for all, fair, and secure.’”
Obama’s campaign and Democrats sued the state’s elections chief and attorney general over the legality of the law. They argued that everyone should have the chance to vote on those three days. The law makes an exception for military personnel and Ohio voters living overseas.
Attorneys for the state have said many laws already grant military personnel special voting accommodations, such as requirements for states to send absentee ballots to them 45 days before the election. And they contend local boards need those three days to prepare for the election.
Ohio is among 32 states, plus the District of Columbia, that allow voters to cast an early ballot by mail or in person without having to give a reason.
The Obama campaign and Democrats said a series of legislative changes by state lawmakers arbitrarily eliminated the opportunity for most Ohioans to vote in person on those three days, while giving military or overseas voters the chance to do so.
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