Friday, August 31, 2012

Court rules in favor of in-person early voting

U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus has issued a preliminary injunction and ordered in-person voting for the three days prior to the November 6 election.

Obama for America, the National Democratic Party and the Ohio Democratic Party had sued Secretary of State Jon Husted and Attorney General Mike DeWine over state law which says that only members of the military and their families would be allowed to vote in person on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day. Military groups had asked to intervene in favor of the law.

The judge said the law was "unconstitutional “to the extent it changes the deadline for in-person voting from the close of business on the day before Election Day to 6 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day.”

He also said it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution because those covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act (military voters and their families) could cast a ballot during those final three days while other Ohioans could not.

The Judge wrote:

This Court anticipates that Defendant Secretary of State will direct all Ohio elections boards to maintain a specific, consistent schedule on those three days, in keeping with his earlier directive that only by doing so can he ensure that Ohio’s election process is "uniform, accessible for all, fair, and secure."

DeWine announced he will appeal the ruling.

With all due respect to the Judge, we disagree with his ruling today. We have always allowed distinction for military voters, and to say this violates equal protection is wrong.

My job as the Attorney General is to defend the laws of the State of Ohio and defend the right of Ohio to set its own law based on the Ohio and U.S. Constitutions. We believe states should have the right to set the hours of election and the time of election.

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