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Friday, October 5, 2012

Early Voting Is Restored in Ohio


Early voting in Ohio for all residents was restored on Friday by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, giving President Obama's campaign another victory in its legal battles with Republicans over voting issues.

The state's Republican-led administration had imposed a measure that allowed early voting only for members of the military and people living overseas, arguing that the state had to reduce the strain on the election system from statewide early balloting.

Democrats - and Mr. Obama's campaign - cried foul, arguing that the measure unfairly disenfranchised minorities and other voters. Those voters are more likely to back the Democratic candidates.

A district judge in August blocked the measure, saying that the state of Ohio had a duty to offer equal voting opportunities to all of its residents. On Friday, the appeals court affirmed the judge's decision.

“Defendants' legi timate regulatory interests do not outweigh the burden on voters whose right to vote in the upcoming election would be burdened by the joint effect of the statute and the directive,” Judge Eric Clay wrote for the court.

The decision is a victory for Mr. Obama's campaign, which has been fighting legal battles in several states over the question of access to the ballot box in next month's election.

Ohio election officials, including Attorney General Mike DeWine, could appeal the ruling.

Ohio is a critical state in the presidential campaign. No Republican has won the presidency without winning Ohio for more than 100 years. Mr. Obama currently holds a lead in the state over Mitt Romney in most public polls.