A judge has ordered Ohio to lift its early voting ban, effectively blocking a measure that would have restricted early voting in the swing state — a move that the Obama campaign has called a victory for them.
The measure, which was passed by Ohio’s Republican-controlled legislature, would have ended early in-person voting for most people on the Friday evening before Election Day, but would allow military and overseas voters to cast ballots until the Monday before elections, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The Obama campaign and Democrats worked to challenge the measure on behalf of Ohio voters, saying that it would affect minority and working class residents. The lawsuit argued that the measure would infringe on the fundamental right to vote, and would also violate the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.
The Huffington Post notes that US District Judge Peter Economus ruled:
“On balance, the right of Ohio voters to vote in person during the last three days prior to Election Day — a right previously conferred to all voters by the State — outweighs the State’s interest in setting the 6 p.m. Friday deadline. The burden on Ohio voters’ right to participate in the national and statewide election is great, as evidenced by the statistical analysis offered by Plaintiffs and not disputed by Defendants. Moreover, the State fails to articulate a precise, compelling interest in establishing the 6 p.m. Friday deadline as applied to non-UOCAVA [Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act] voters and has failed to evidence any commitment to the ‘exception’ it rhetorically extended to UOCAVA voters.”
The judge’s order means that in-person early voting will be allowed in Ohio up to Monday November 5th, the day before the election. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has said that he intends to appeal the ruling by Judge Economus.