A judge in Ohio has ordered election officials to restore early voting in the days before the election. According to the Ohio Capital Blog, U.S. District judge Peter C. Economus has ruled that in the interest of placing “all Ohio voters on equal standing,” the state must reinstitute its popular early voting program.
The majority-Republican Ohio state legislature and Secretary of State Jon Husted had canceled early voting in 2012. When concerned citizens pointed out that shuttering the last three days of early voting would disenfranchise a large number of black voters, Husted said, “We’re not 7-11” to a conservative talk show host.
Another Republican official, Doug Preisse, chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party and close adviser to Gov. John Kasich, wrote an email to the Cincinnati Dispatch that read, in part, “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine.”
When the Obama campaign sued to restore the weekend voting hours, Republicans tried to brand the move as an attempt to disenfranchise military voters.
Economus ruled that the charge was without merit, that rather than exempting military personnel from the benefit or early voting, the program extends the same voting privileges enjoyed by service members to the entire voting public.
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