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U.S. judge restores 3 days of early voting in Ohio

9:26 PM, Aug 31, 2012   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) -- A federal judge has restored three days of early voting in Ohio for the November election, calling the state's limit on in-person balloting "arbitrary."

That means all Ohio voters will be able to vote in-person or absentee on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before the Nov. 6 General Election.

"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 [Nov. 2] deadline," U.S. District Judge Peter Economus wrote in a 23-page decision, our Gannett colleagues at the Cincinnati Enquirer report.

Economus, an Ohio native who was appointed by former president Bill Clinton, said he expects Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, will order county election boards to "maintain a consistent schedule on those three days," The Columbus Dispatch writes.

Attorney General Mike DeWine, also a Republican, said he would appeal to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Last year, the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. John Kasich reversed a long-standing law by cutting off early in-person voting on the Friday before Election Day. They argued that election officials needed more time to prepare. Military personnel and overseas voters were exempt.

The Obama campaign and the Ohio Democratic Party challenged the law, and today Economus granted a preliminary injunction.

He cited the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore in 2000, writing, "Court stresses that where the state has authorized in-person early voting through the Monday before Election Day for all voters, 'the state may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person's vote over that of another.' Here, that is precisely what the state has done."

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has more.

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