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Published: Tuesday, 7/17/2012

Obama campaign sues Husted over early voting issue

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS — President Obama’s campaign sued Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted today to keep him from enforcing a law closing the doors to in-person early voting during the three days immediately preceding the Nov. 6 election.

Lawmakers recently undid a far-reaching, Republican-backed election reform law when faced with a Democratic-led effort to repeal it at the polls, but they did not repeal a separate subsequently passed law that duplicated one provision of the repealed law.

That provision prohibits county board of elections from keeping their doors open on the weekend and Monday before the election to accommodate early voters, a three-day period that has been heavily used in past elections.

The campaign joined the Democratic National Committee and the Ohio Democratic Party in filing the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Columbus.

The Republican secretary of state did enforce the three-day early vote prohibition for the March primary election.

Ohio voters can still begin casting absentee ballots by mail and voting in person at election board-approved locations 35 days out from the election. An attempt to narrow this window was shelved when the broader election reform law was repealed before it could take effect.

“It’s a cynical ploy that is both unfair and unjust,” said Patrick Gaspard, DNC executive director. “The last three days of early vote… are the busiest voting days, ensuring Ohioans don’t have to choose between work and family and voting.’’

The lawsuit contends that the provision violates the equal protection rights of voters, since the deadline for uniformed military personnel, their spouses, and their voting-age dependents are permitted to vote early through the Monday before the election.

ODP Chairman Chris Redfern noted that 30 percent of all votes cast in the 2008 presidential election were cast early and 93,000 of those were cast in the final three days before the election.



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