Ohio appeals to Supreme Court on early voting

Associated Press Modified: October 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm •  Published: October 9, 2012
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio's election chief on Tuesday appealed a ruling that reinstates the final three early voting days in the battleground state, calling a decision last week by a federal appeals court "an unprecedented intrusion" into how states run elections.

Secretary of State Jon Husted asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether the state Legislature or federal courts should set Ohio election laws.

Husted, a Republican, also asked the court to delay the lower court's decision while the Supreme Court decides whether to take the case.

Husted said Friday's decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would affect how elections are run in all 50 states. The appeals court in Cincinnati affirmed a lower court ruling and returned discretion to set hours on the final three days to local boards of elections.

"This ruling not only doesn't make legal sense, it doesn't make practical sense," Husted, a Republican, said in a statement.

He said it opened up the chance for Ohio's 88 county boards of elections to set different rules, while at the same time ordering that all voters be treated the same. Husted said he will be consulting with those boards to craft a directive that sets uniform hours on the three disputed days in the event his appeal isn't successful.

President Barack Obama's campaign and Democrats had sued Husted and Ohio's attorney general for cutting off early voting for most residents on the Friday evening before a Tuesday election. The law makes an exception for military personnel and Ohio voters living overseas.

Bob Bauer, general counsel for Obama for America, said the campaign had no reason to believe that the state would find success at the Supreme Court level.

"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," Bauer said in a statement.

Before the changes to the Ohio law, local boards of elections previously set early voting hours on the three final days. And weekday hours and weekend voting varied among the state's counties.

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