FILE - This Jan. 31, 2012 file photo shows a woman voting at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland as early voting began in Ohio's March 6 presidential primary. A dispute over early voting rules in swing state Ohio is playing out in a political spat between the two presidential campaigns and in a federal court battle. At issue is the legality of an Ohio law cutting three days out of the early-voting period for everyone except members of the armed forces and Ohio citizens living overseas. The dispute reaches court Wednesday, thanks to what the Obama campaign describes as its first lawsuit anywhere in the nation for the 2012 election. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
COLUMBUS — A federal judge today sided with President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and ordered Ohio to allow early voting on the three days prior to the Nov. 6 election to all voters.
But hours after the decision, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced he will appeal the ruling. That appeal will be made to the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
U.S. District Court Senior Judge Peter C. Economus ordered Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted not to enforce a state law passed last year that closed that window to in-person early voting to anyone but members of the military and their families.
“This Court notes that restoring in-person early voting to all Ohio voters through the Monday before Election Day does not deprive (military) voters from early voting,’’ wrote Judge Economus, a Clinton appointee. “Instead, and more importantly, it places all Ohio voters on equal standing.
“The only hindrance to (military) early voting is the Secretary of State’s failure to set uniform hours at elections boards during the last three days before Election Day,’’ he wrote. “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 lawsuit is one of just a number of battles being waged in the swing state of Ohio over early voting.
Under Ohio law, voters may begin to cast absentee ballots by mail or in person beginning on Oct. 2, 35 days before the election. The judge’s ruling lifts the ban that existed on in-person early voting by non-military voters that began at 6 p.m. on the Friday before the election.
“This Court anticipates that Defendant Secretary of State will direct all Ohio elections boards to maintain a specific, consistent schedule on those three days, in keeping with his earlier directive that only by doing so can he ensure that Ohio’s election process is ‘uniform, accessible for all, fair, and secure’,’’ Judge Economus wrote.