Earlier this year, Ohio Republican lawmakers pushed through legislation curtailing the state’s early voting period. Yesterday, a suit was filed in federal court to block the voter suppression law.
Previously early voting had been allowed through the Monday before the election. The Republican bill cuts off voting on the Friday before Election Day for all voters except military personnel.
Coincidentally or not, many groups use those days as a final push to get voters to the polls who might have difficulty casting their ballots on Election Day. For example, many African American churches sponsor “Souls to the Polls” drives on the final election weekend. In 2008, an estimated 93,000 votes were cast in Ohio during the last three days of early voting, according to a nonpartisan voter advocacy group.
The restrictions on early voting are the only remnants of a broader voter suppression bill passed last year by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Gov. John Kasich (R). But following a huge public outcry and a successful campaign to place a referendum repealing the new law on the ballot, the legislature back tracked in May and repealed all of the law but the early voting restrictions.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio by President Obama’s re-election campaign, which said in a statement:
Through a series of legislative maneuvering concluding with a bill passed this May, Republicans were able to remove the last three days of early voting for the vast majority of Ohio voters, a cynical move that is both unfair and unjust. The last three days of early voting are especially important to ensuring a free and fair election…and ensure that all Ohio voters can make their voices heard this November.
Find out how to protect your voting rights at our My Vote, My Right website here.