State officials in Ohio on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court for permission to close the voting booths to early voters on the weekend prior to election day on November 6, for all but overseas military voters. The Sixth Circuit Court, in a ruling sought by President Obama’s campaign and by the Democratic Party, ruled that excluding non-military voters from casting their ballots on the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday just before election day would unconstitutionally deny the opportunity to vote to citizens who have lower incomes and are less educated. The dispute fits into a nationwide pattern in which state officials have moved to narrow voting opportunities, with Republicans arguing that those steps were needed to prevent fraud and to allow election officials to conduct elections in an orderly way, and with Democrats claiming that the efforts are designed to reduce voting by groups that are assumed to favor Democratic candidates. Ohioans have already started early voting, with crowds seeking to do so on the first days of this form of “absentee” balloting. Although conducted under absentee voting laws, the early voting at issue actually occurs in person.
The application (Husted v. Obama for America, 12A338) was filed with Justice Elena Kagan, who is the Circuit Justice for emergency matters in the Sixth Circuit group of states, including Ohio. She has the authority to act on her own or to share it with her eight colleagues — a likely step. The state is seeking a delay of the Sixth Circuit ruling until it can appeal that to the Supreme Court. Noting that the Supreme Court has ruled that there is no constitutional right to vote by absentee ballot, the state officials contended that restrictions on the right to cast such votes are to be judged by the most relaxed constitutional standard. They also contended that there can be no serious argument that the state is disenfranchising any voter or class of voters, because its laws provide for 230 hours of in-person early voting, more than 750 hours of absentee voting by mail, and 13 hours of in-person voting on election day itself.
Full Article: Ohio asks to curb early voting (UPDATED) : SCOTUSblog.