On one side, 15 states have joined Ohio in asking the Supreme Court for emergency protection from federal judges who seek to “micromanage” elections. On the other, President Obama’s reelection committee has invoked the lessons of Bush v. Gore to counter that Ohio is attempting to favor one group of voters above all others. And now, in a case with legal and political ramifications, the Supreme Court must decide whether to intervene just three weeks before the election in a state that both Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney consider critical to their chances of winning.
The issue is whether Ohio may allow only military voters to take advantage of in-person early voting in the three days before the Nov. 6 election. A district judge and a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit said the state had not shown why it should differentiate among groups of voters. “While there is a compelling reason to provide more opportunities for military voters to cast their ballots, there is no corresponding satisfactory reason to prevent nonmilitary voters from casting their ballots as well,” the appeals court said. About 105,000 voters had cast their ballots during the three days in question in 2008.