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Ohio secretary of state asks Supreme Court to block early voting

October 09, 2012|By David G. Savage
  • Presidential and vice presidential candidate names, as seen on a ballot. Ohio's early voting, scheduled to begin three days before Nov. 6, has been called into question by its secretary of state.
Presidential and vice presidential candidate names, as seen on a ballot.… (Charlie Neibergall / AP…)

WASHINGTON — Ohio’s secretary of state is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block a pair of rulings that will open the polls for all voters on the three days prior to the Nov. 6 election, a time when 105,000 Ohioans cast ballots four years ago.

The election-year emergency appeal could prompt the high court to revisit its Bush vs. Gore ruling of 2000, which said voting standards must be equal across the state.

Ohio had said it planned to offer limited early voting to military families on the weekend before the election. This followed a decision by the Republican-led Legislature to cancel general early voting on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday prior to election day.

President Obama’s campaign sued in July and argued the polls should be open to all voters on the final weekend before the election, as they were 2008.

A federal judge and the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, saying early voting must be offered on an equal basis.

But Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican and former House speaker, announced Tuesday he would appeal. State officials, not federal judges, should decide the times for early voting, he said.

“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,” Husted said. “As a swing state, we in Ohio expected to be held to a high standard,” adding the state is offering early voting on all the weekdays leading up to final Friday before election day.

Husted said if his appeal to the Supreme Court fails, he will craft “a directive to set uniform hours” for early voting in Ohio’s 88 counties.

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David.Savage@latimes.com

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