Ohio officials filed an emergency appeal [text, PDF] with the US Supreme Court [official website] on Tuesday seeking permission to close early voting three days prior to election day for everyone but overseas military personnel. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Attorney General Mike DeWine [official websites] filed the request seeking to stay an order by the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] which ruled that the early voting polls should remain open [opinion, PDF] for the three days leading up to election day. Ohio argues that the circuit court erred in striking down the regulation because:
[The Supreme] Court has unequivocally held that there is no constitutional right to absentee voting and that laws offering absentee ballots to some voters but not others are subject to rational-basis review unless the law "absolutely prohibited" voters "from exercising the franchise" ... It cannot seriously be argued that any voter—let alone an entire class of voters—has been disenfranchised when Ohio still offers [non-overseas] voters 230 hours of in-person absentee voting, more than 750 hours of absentee voting by mail, and 13 hours of voting on Election Day. The Sixth Circuit's ruling that lower income and lesser educated voters would not be able to vote at all other than through in-person absentee voting on these three particular days finds no support in fact or law.The Ohio code is being challenged by Obama for America, which argues that that the different election periods for different groups of citizens violates the Equal Protection Clause [Cornell LII Backgrounder] of the US Constitution.
The Sixth Circuit's ruling was handed down last week following an appeal [JURIST report] filed in September. Earlier that month the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio [official website] issued a preliminary [JURIST report] injunction preventing Ohio from enforcing the early voting limitation. Voting rights [JURIST backgrounder] have become especially contentious in the run up to the November presidential election. Also last month a judge for the US District Court for the Middle District of Florida [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that Florida does not have to provide 96 hours of early voting for the November elections.