On Friday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling reinstating early, in-person voting three days prior to the Nov. 6 elections in the key state of Ohio, handing down a victory to Democrats.
The 6th Circuit said the state’s logic and evidence in support of blocking early voting was insufficient, and that there was “no evidence that local boards of elections have struggled to cope with early voting in the past.” Ohio had planned to cut off early voting on the Friday before November 6, claiming the practice was a burden to election boards.
The decision of the 6th Circuit does not mandate polls to be open on the days the state wants it to be blocked, but leaves the decision to the 88 individual county election boards. The Ohio Secretary of State said that his office was reviewing the decision.
Ohio began the practice of early voting from 2005 after the 2004 elections saw long queues and suffering of both election boards and voters. However, Republicans wanted the practice stopped and passed legislation to that effect last year, while the Democrats overturned most of the provisions except one, the issue of voting on the three days before elections, which ultimately ended up in the courts.
U.S. District Judge Peter Economus had ruled on August 31 on a lawsuit filed by the Obama re-election campaign and the Ohio Democratic National Party, and blocked the law, which the Democrats held unconstitutional because it imposed two different voting deadlines for military and non-military voters.
If the ban on early voting had been allowed, it would not have affected the voting rights of military voters, but non-military voters would have been prevented casting early votes from the Friday before November 6. Democrats contend that 93,000 Ohio voters used the three-day voting window prior to Election Day in 2008 election year.