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In a victory for states’ rights, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked a federal judge’s order that would have forced the state to increase early voting hours. The 5-4 vote means early voting will begin next Tuesday, Oct. 7.
This is what legislators approved earlier this year, before a federal judge ruled that the early voting schedule was unconstitutional because it reduced the amount of early voting compared to 2012. Civil rights groups claimed this disproportionately impacted poor and minority voters.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted asserted that his state has the right to determine its voting schedule without the interference of an activist judge. The court’s order from Monday is temporary, meaning that a full ruling by the court could reverse this order so it only applies to the 2014 election cycle.
“We are gratified the United States Supreme Court has allowed Ohio’s early voting law to stand,” Sec. Husted said in a statement.
“I plan to implement state law and the voting schedule established by Democrats and Republicans at the local level, meaning Ohioans will have 28 days of early voting, including two Saturdays and a Sunday,” he added. “Ohioans can have confidence that it remains easy to vote and hard to cheat in our state.”
Groups opposing Ohio–including the NAACP and the League of Women Voters–were predictably disappointed in the high court’s decision. Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, represented the losing side.
“For many, it is their only chance to cast a ballot during an election. While (yesterday’s) order is not a final ruling on the merits, it will deprive many Ohioans of the opportunity to vote in the upcoming election as this case continues to make its way through the courts,” Ho said, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
This ruling has implications beyond Ohio. Election and voting laws in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Texas, and Arkansas are being challenged in court.
Watchdog Wire has previously reported on the fight over early voting in Ohio. Click here to see our series of reports.
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