By Jim Siegel
The Columbus Dispatch Friday October 5, 2012 4:21 PM
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today sided with the Obama campaign and Ohio Democrats in reinstating in-person early voting on the final three days before Election Day.
However, the court is not requiring that the polls be open on those days, but rather leaves the decision up to individual county elections boards.
“The state has proposed no interest which would justify reducing the opportunity to vote by a considerable segment of the voting population,” the appellate judges said. “The public interest...favors permitting as many qualified voters to vote as possible,”
Without the courts’ intervention, “all non-military Ohio voters would be irreparably injured.”
Republican lawmakers passed a law last year to cut off early voting on the Friday before Election Day, arguing that elections boards needed time to get their poll books updated.
But Democrats sued, saying that because active military and overseas voters and their families could vote on those days, it was unconstitutional to cut those days off for everyone else. Democrats estimate that 93,000 people voted on those days in 2008.
The appeals court upheld a prior federal district court ruling.
“Ohio’s statutory scheme is not generally applicable to all voters, nor is the state’s justification sufficiently ‘important’ to excuse the discriminatory burden it has placed on some but not all Ohio voters,” the court wrote.
“There is no reason to provide these voters with fewer opportunities to vote than military voters, particularly when there is no evidence that local boards of elections will be unable to cope with more early voters,” the court declared today. “While we readily acknowledge the need to provide military voters more time to vote, we see no corresponding justification for giving others less time.”
Secretary of State Jon Husted said in a statement: “My office is reviewing today’s decision by the court as we determine the best course of action moving forward. No action will be taken today, or this weekend.”
So basically, this is a cop-out verdict of, "Well you should put them back... but you don't have to if you don't want to." Each county election board has 2 members of each party and the tie breaker vote is... GOP Secretary of State Husted. Fucking awesome. Let me guess, he's going to instruct all his Republican buddies across the state to vote 'no' unless they're in heavily Republican voter districts or they'll get fired like the Montgomery County Democratic board members a few months back.