Ohio: Judge restores 3 early voting days, DeWine to appeal

1:36 PM, Aug 31, 2012   |    comments
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COLUMBUS --  A federal judge in Ohio is giving all voters in the swing state the option of casting their ballot in person during the three days before Election Day.

A judge on Friday issued a preliminary injunction granting the request from President Barack Obama's campaign that targets a state law that cuts off early voting for most residents on the Friday evening before a Tuesday election.

The law exempts military personnel and Ohioans living overseas.

Within hours of the decision, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that he will appeal to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Obama's campaign and Democrats are suing the state's elections chief over the legality of the law. They argue that everyone should have a chance to vote on those three days.

Attorneys for the state contend that many laws grant special voting accommodations for military members, and local boards need time to prepare for elections.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich responded to the ruling with a statement.

"Today is a good day for our democracy. This is a step in the right direction; but it is the first step, not the last. Evening and weekend hours must be honored in counties which have established them and expanded to those counties which have not."

"Voting is a fundamental building block of our democracy. We must protect that right at all costs."

State Sen. Nina Turner also released a statement:

"I am pleased that Judge Economus saw the disparate treatment of Ohio voters for what it is. This is the second time this week that Republican-led efforts to make it harder to cast a ballot have been blocked by the courts. Voting is our country's most fundamental right and I am glad to see that it is finally being treated as such. "It is important to note that this decision will not make it harder for our brave men and women in uniform to participate in this November's election-it will merely extend many of the same voting opportunities they enjoy to their fellow citizens."

"Despite this exciting development, Ohioans remain without many of the weekend early voting hours that were available in previous elections. I call upon Secretary of State Husted, Attorney General DeWine, and other Ohio leaders to support the court's ruling and work to provide all of the state's voters the opportunities necessary to cast their ballots this fall."

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald responded to the news. He joined voting rights advocates in praising the ruling issued in federal court today restoring in-person voting on the three days immediately preceding Election Day for all eligible Ohio voters.

"This ruling reinforces the belief that our government should use all avenues to make voting easier, not harder, for Ohio's citizens. Permitting in-person voting on the days before the election will make it simpler for working men and women to cast their votes as well as help eliminate the long lines and other voting problems that we have experienced in the past."

"The Court's opinion specifically cited Cuyahoga County's amicus brief, noting the preparation that Cuyahoga County had undertaken in anticipation of this November's election, including budgeting for the costs to conduct in-person voting hours immediately prior to Election Day."

"This year, we included the costs of conducting early voting in our annual budget process, as Cuyahoga County had done in 2008. I am pleased to know that these prudent steps enacted by Cuyahoga County were cited in the opinion."

"Nobody wants to see the long voting lines that we saw in 2004."


The Associated Press/WKYC-TV

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