Federal Court Rules Ohio Can Have Early in Person Voting, State Appeals

Sep 3, 2012

A federal judge said new laws, passed by Ohio’s Republican legislature, that wiped out early in person voting at boards of elections the weekend before Election Day are unconstitutional.  It’s good news for Democrats and the Obama campaign who’ve been fighting to restore the weekend of early in person weekend voting.  They point out 93,000 Ohioans voted on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before the Presidential election in 2008. And they say many low income, African American voters voted on that weekend.  The Democrats point out hundreds of thousands of Ohioans signed petitions to try to repeal the new law that prevents weekend voting.

"The people of Ohio have overwhelmingly expressed their desire to support the early voting system which has been so successful in recent years.  And now, as a result of this ruling, all Ohio voters, including active military, veterans, firefighters, police officers and countless others can cast their ballot over the weekend and Monday before Election Day," says Jessica Kershaw with the Obama for America campaign.

Prior to this ruling, only active duty military members or overseas voters could cast ballots in person on the Monday before the Election.  No weekend voting was allowed.  Democrats say taking away this weekend of early voting disenfranchises the working poor and minorities who prefer to vote in person and find it hard to make it to the polls on weekdays.  And when they sued over this, they said they wanted to open early in person weekend voting up for All Ohioans.  But almost as quickly as Democrats started to celebrate the ruling, Republican Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced he will appeal it.

"States should have some rights and some ability to set hours of election and time for election," says DeWine.

DeWine says all Ohioans have ample opportunities to vote under the new laws that have been passed during the past couple of years.

"You have some of the most expansive voting rules and laws in the nation," says DeWine.  "For 35 days before the election, anyone can get an absentee ballot.  This year, the Secertary of State will be sending out absentee ballot applications to every registered voter in the state of Ohio.  Those voters have an easy opportunity to vote.  They have to show absolutely nothing other than they want an absentee ballot."

DeWine says the appeal on this case will be filed in the 6th circuit court of appeals Tuesday and he expects the case will be expedited.  When asked what she thinks about the state’s decision to appeal this ruling, the Obama campaign’s Kershaw responds this way:

"We’ll deal with that as it comes but for now, we are certainly pleased that the court has made the decision to restore fair and equal access to early voting," says Jessica Kershaw.