Federal court upholds Ohio early voting ruling
October 5th, 2012
06:10 PM ET
10 years ago

Federal court upholds Ohio early voting ruling

(CNN) - A federal appeals court on Friday sided with the Obama campaign and Democrats in their lawsuit against Ohio over a restriction the state had placed on early voting.

Judges Eric L. Clay and Joseph M. Hood ruled 2 to 1 for the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding a late August injunction preventing the state from restricting many voters from casting ballots on the final weekend before November's election.

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President Barack Obama's campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and the Ohio Democratic Party filed suit in July over the restriction, which would have closed early in-person voting at the end of the day on the Friday before the election for all voters except those covered by a federal voting law. The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act required the state to maintain early voting for members of the military, their family members, and U.S. citizens living outside of the U.S.

In late August, the federal District Court found the state law "likely" violated the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution, acknowledging an argument that "low-income and minority voters are disproportionately affected by elimination" of particular early voting days. The court found "there is no definitive evidence... that elections boards would be tremendously burdened" by returning poll access to the standard before recent changes to the state's laws.

The state had argued that "local county boards of elections are too busy preparing for Election Day to accommodate early voters" and that "unique challenges faced by military service members and their families justify maintaining in-person early voting for them but not for other Ohio voters," the court's opinion reads.

The circuit court said the injunction does not, however, require local election offices to be open for early voting during the weekend before the election, but said the injunction "return[s] discretion to local boards of elections to allow all Ohio voters to vote" that Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

The court's third member argued that the court's opinion was too broad in scope.

Obama campaign counsel Bob Bauer said the court ruled that "that every Ohioan should have equal access to early voting."

"As a result of this decision, every voter, including military, veterans, and overseas voters alongside all Ohioans, will have the same opportunity to vote early through the weekend and Monday before the election," Bauer wrote in a statement. "Across the country, the hard work to protect Americans' right to vote has paid off. We feel that every voter, regardless of party affiliation, that has the right to vote should be able to. We are now focused on making sure that voters across the country fully understand their rights, know exactly what their voting laws require of them, and clarify when they can cast their ballot."

Ohio Secretary of State John Husted said in a statement that "My office is reviewing today's decision by the court as we determine the best course of action moving forward."

He said he would take no further action on the matter "today, or this weekend."

- CNN's Justin Lear contributed to this report

Filed under: 2012 • Ohio
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Patriot

    If ever you needed to have a reason to vote for the Democratic Party, this is it. Manipulating laws to suppress voter turnout, a Republican tactic in several key States and done under the guise of 'voter fraud' which has been proven to be virtually nonexistent is un-American and disgusting. Republicans can never be allowed to hold power again.

    October 5, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  2. Blinded by the republican lie

    I love the fact that repub obstruction and suppresion is falling flat on its face...Chalk up another victory for the people and vote these repubs out...Aren't we all tired of them infringing on our rights?

    October 5, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  3. MiddleAmericaMS

    Voting Tips:

    If you want your vote to count vote early, bring state ID, don't use provisional ballot & don't vote by mail if possible.

    Make sure your state issued ID matches your registered address or else your vote probably won't count. If not, get new ID.


    October 5, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  4. Hillcrester

    The GOP efforts to suppress Dem voting will not succeed.

    October 5, 2012 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  5. Name w.bullock

    In more bad news for obama

    October 5, 2012 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  6. MaryM

    Thank you Judges

    October 5, 2012 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  7. mctaket

    Great day for Ohio voters! All three judges ruled in favor with Judge White dissenting on only the remedy.

    October 5, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  8. plain&simple

    When will republicans root for freedom, American workers getting back to work or anything positive about the news for our country. I didn't particularly care for Bush,but never rooted against him or the successes under his administration..... Americans put country first.

    October 5, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  9. Ken

    My guess is that the Republican Secretary of State will now reduce the number of voting machines in predominately Democratic districts in hopes that frustrated voters will not wait in line to vote.

    October 5, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  10. Larry L

    Voter suppression is the sleaziest thing the Republicans have done to date. It shows their core belief in an elitist government run by affluent, bigoted, white, racists. Those supporting these fascist acts are unfit to share in our democracy. They insult our veterans who fought and died to give us all a chance to vote in a democratic republic.

    October 5, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  11. Pete

    These extreme treasonistic republicans will do anything to win going as far as voter supression,its been that way for years why change it..Nathan Sproul in 8 states including Florida caught for voter fraud,the same Sproul that shedded ballots for the Bushs elections in Gore,Kerry.He's got to spend time in jail but the GOP pockets are deep keeping him out,they can't win a legal campaign so they cheat.It's got to stop and stop now ,they're blantantly as well as arrogent in their approach in saying they'll do what they can to get Romney the win..Romney cheats, lies on the podium and his politically paid surrogates cheat in the field,nice way to kill democracy ha!!

    October 5, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  12. severely progressive

    Sorry R's! Better luck with suppressing Dem votes in 2016. Maybe you should start earlier next time. The party of Archie Bunker will never stop trying. Well I guess you'll have 4 years to try to impeach the Communist, Socialist, Marxist,Maoist, Kenyan, Secret Muslim, Elitist,Affirmative action President who is destroying the country from the golf course.

    October 5, 2012 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  13. Marie MD

    Somebody better pay attention to PA because the different counties are still telling people that they need a photo id or they are not voting.
    MSNBC has been calling them and they are now putting the correct information on their websites. This after a judge ruled against voter suppression.
    I see that the teapublikkklans are still paying the game of the communists.

    October 5, 2012 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  14. ronb

    An injunction barring the use of voter suppression that is going to allow Obama to win Ohio.....DONE! You'd think that after the RNC is on record asking a crooked company to change it's name so as to not draw scrutiny that those GOP/T guys would know better than to try and suppress the vote. Glad the courts have sided with the American people!!!!!

    October 5, 2012 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  15. Donkey Party

    Without voter fraud and voter suppression, the GOP has nothing left to steal the election. Game, set, match.

    October 5, 2012 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Both parties,DNC & RNC,should make voter education part of thier campaign.

    October 6, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  17. Name king j

    I can't see myself ever voting for a Republican again unless they clean house. The tea party are phony!

    October 6, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |