Arguing that early voting is necessary to continue to deal with the “unprecedented disaster” at the polls in Ohio in 2004, several civil rights advocacy groups urged the Supreme Court on Saturday to permit Ohioans to start casting their ballots next Tuesday for this year’s general election. Allowing that would merely keep in place what the state has been doing for the past four elections, and would not affect any other state, the fifty-four-page brief contended. Justice Elena Kagan is currently considering, and could share with her colleagues, pleas by state officials and the Ohio legislature to allow the state to cut back early in-person voting from thirty-five to twenty-eight days, to bar voting on most Sundays in the coming weeks, and to eliminate voting in the early evening on any day. Those are the very opportunities, the advocacy groups said in their response, that tens of thousands of black and low-income voters have been able to use to cast their ballots. A federal district court judge in Columbus and a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati recently struck down the changes that the legislature and state election officials have sought to put into effect this year. The state seeks to have those rulings delayed until the Supreme Court can settle the constitutional and voting rights law issues at stake.
Supporters of early voting recounted in their Saturday filing the history of “the debacle of 2004,” when some voters stood in line for more than twelve hours, and some actually never got to vote.
The early voting methods that were put in place in 2005 to help cure that problem were not the result of “a magnanimous commitment to the broadest possible participation in self-government” by the state, the brief argued, but rather were “a necessary remedy to address the state’s demonstrated inability in 2004 to conduct the entirety of an election on a single day.” State officials who now want help from the Supreme Court approach it “with dirty hands,” the filing asserted.
As the new case has unfolded in lower courts and now in the Supreme Court, the dispute is portrayed in vastly different ways by the legal combatants.
Full Article: Court urged to let Ohioans vote early (UPDATED) : SCOTUSblog.