Ohio must allow voters to cast in-person ballots on the final three days before an election, a federal judge ordered Wednesday. The order wraps up one segment of long-running dispute over early-voting days in the quintessential swing state. Most notably, the decision allows voters in the November gubernatorial election to cast ballots on one Sunday, a popular voting day for urban churches whose largely African-American congregants organize “souls to the polls” caravans after services. For years, Democrats have claimed Ohio’s laws, along with orders from Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, unequally affected some voters in the state, especially those in urban areas. In 2012, President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and Democrats filed a lawsuit over an Ohio law that cut off in-person early voting three days prior to Election Day. The law made an exception for military personnel and Ohio voters living overseas. Democrats claimed that was unequal treatment, and everyone should have the chance to vote those three days.
A federal judge agreed. In 2012, he ordered Ohio to allow early voting on the three days before the presidential election. This week, U.S. District Judge Peter Economus made the order permanent, calling for Husted to set uniform hours on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before each Election Day.
Husted had most recently riled Democrats in February by setting a 2014 early voting schedule that eliminated Sunday voting throughout the state, adopting a proposal recommended by the bipartisan Ohio Association of Election Officials. That schedule allowed voters to cast ballots in-person on weekdays and two Saturdays in the four weeks before Election Day. They could also request and mail in absentee ballots.
In a statement Wednesday, Husted said he had urged lawmakers to set a uniform early-voting schedule.
Full Article: Ohio must restore three early voting days, court says.