Ohio will appeal to U.S. Supreme Court on early voting

Ohio will ask the Supreme Court to review a federal appeals court's decision that the state must offer early voting on the weekend before the election to all voters, not just those in the military, the state announced Tuesday.

“This is an unprecedented intrusion by the federal courts into how states run elections and because of its impact on all 50 states as to who and how elections will be run in America we are asking the Supreme Court to step in and allow Ohioans to run Ohio elections," Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) said in a statement. 

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled last week that if Ohio allowed members of the military to vote in-person on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before the Nov. 6 election, it had to provide the same opportunity for all voters. The suit was brought by Ohio Democrats and the Obama campaign. 

Husted said that if the appeal is unsuccessful, he will work with local supervisors of elections to make sure that all counties offer voting on the weekend before the election. The appeals court decision said those decisions could be made by the local officials, but Husted said it was important to have a statewide procedure. 

Husted's full statement:

“This is an unprecedented intrusion by the federal courts into how states run elections and because of its impact on all 50 states as to who and how elections will be run in America we are asking the Supreme Court to step in and allow Ohioans to run Ohio elections. 
  
“This ruling not only doesn’t make legal sense, it doesn’t make practical sense. 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. 
  
“As a swing state, we in Ohio expect to be held to a high standard and level of scrutiny when it comes to elections. However, it’s troubling that the federal courts have failed to recognize that there isn’t another state in the union which can claim Ohio’s broad menu of voting options and opportunity to vote. In Ohio, ALL voters already have at least 230 hours available to vote in person prior to Election Day, ALL registered voters received an application to vote by mail and ALL voters still have the ability to vote during the 13-hour window on Election Day itself. 
  
“While I will be asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Ohio law through the appeals process, the last thing I want to see is a non-uniform system where voters will be treated differently in all 88 counties. 
  
“Since some boards of elections have already started to take action on hours of operation for the three days before Election Day, I am going to take time to consult with all 88 counties before crafting a directive to set uniform hours should the state not be successful upon appeal.” 

Robert Barnes has been a Washington Post reporter and editor since 1987. He has covered the Supreme Court since November 2006.
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