Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced Tuesday that he will appeal a court ruling which restored access to early voting during the three days before the election.
An appeals court ruled Friday that Ohio must treat all voters the same as it treats military members or people who live overseas. Husted called the ruling “an unprecedented intrusion by the federal courts into how states run elections” in a press release on Tuesday.
“This ruling not only doesn’t make legal sense, it doesn’t make practical sense,” Husted said. “The court is saying that all voters must be treated the same way under Ohio law, but also grants Ohio’s 88 elections boards the authority to establish 88 different sets of rules. That means that one county may close down voting for the final weekend while a neighboring county may remain open. How any court could consider this a remedy to an equal protection problem is stunning.”
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that “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 non-military voters from casting their ballots as well.”
President Barack Obama’s campaign and state Democrats had challenged Ohio’s effort to shorten the early voting period for those who weren’t in the military or based overseas. Early voting was available in the three day period period in 2008, and minority voters were more likely to vote during that period.
Late update: Bob Bauer, general counsel for the Obama campaign, issued this statement:
There is no justification for the state’s arbitrary actions this year in trying to deny the vast majority of its voters access to open polling places for the last three days before the election. This has been the unanimous conclusion of the courts that have considered this case.
The Secretary of State has now chosen to extend the litigation and to ask the United States Supreme Court to intervene just four weeks before the election. We have no reason to believe that he will meet with any more success now than before.
It is a shame that the Secretary would not have committed his office’s energy instead to implementing the outstanding court orders and administering the orderly and effective early voting process that has served Ohio voters so well since 2005.