High Court Allows Early Voting in Ohio

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By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer

(CNN) — The United States Supreme Court has given the green light to early voting in Ohio in the three days prior to November’s election.

The brief, one sentence order from the court Tuesday is a setback for Republican leaders in the state, who had asked the justices to step in and allow pending restrictions to take effect.

The law would have allowed only military members and their families to vote in person in the last three days before the Nov. 6 election– from Saturday to Monday.

But a federal appeals court in Cincinnati earlier this month concluded if county election boards were open for the early voting, then the polls had to allow all potential voters. A preliminary injunction is in effect preventing the restrictions from being enforced.

The Obama presidential campaign, along with Democratic supporters in Ohio, had successfully challenged the law.

In late August, a federal District Court found the state law “likely” violated the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution, acknowledging an argument that “low-income and minority voters are disproportionately affected by elimination” of particular early voting days. The court found “there is no definitive evidence… that elections boards would be tremendously burdened” by returning poll access to the standard before recent changes to the state’s laws.

The state had argued that “local county boards of elections are too busy preparing for Election Day to accommodate early voters” and that “unique challenges faced by military service members and their families justify maintaining in-person early voting for them but not for other Ohio voters,” the court’s opinion reads.

Ohio is considered a key battleground in November’s election, with 18 electoral votes at stake. Polls currently show President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in a dead heat there, and both candidates have campaigned heavily in the state.

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