Tuesday the Supreme Court unanimously rejected an appeal by Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted of a federal court ruling requiring early voting three days before the election. Early voting will now be available across Ohio the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before the election, but for fewer hours than were available to voters in 2008.
After the long lines and confusion that plagued the 2004 election, Ohio implemented extensive early voting in 2008. Voters in Ohio’s most populous counties were given 35 days before the election to vote early in person along with the chance to vote during the weekend before the election.
When Republicans captured Ohio’s legislature along with the governor’s and secretary of state’s office in 2010, they sought to limit voting the weekend before the election, claiming that election workers needed a break and that uniform voting laws needed to be enforced in all 88 of Ohio’s counties.
“The real reason Husted and the Ohio GOP supported curtailing early voting was because Obama used it so effectively to mobilize his supporters in 2008,” Berman said. “Obama built a huge pre-election lead through early voting that McCain couldn’t counteract on Election Day.”
The Obama campaign made huge investments in getting early voters out and the results seem to be paying off. PPP Polls found that 19 percent of Ohio voters had already cast a ballot and they favored the president by a margin of 76-24.
That the polls will be open Sunday from 1 PM to 5 PM keeps alive the “Souls to the Polls” voter mobilization effort that brings churchgoing voters to the polls after their morning services. “This is a big deal,” according to Berman, “since African-Americans comprised the majority of early voters in cities like Dayton and Cleveland in 2008, and were 26 times more likely to vote in person compared to white voters in Cuyahoga County in ’08.”
No Republican has ever been elected president without winning Ohio. Despite Romney’s post-debate bounce, he still trails the president in the state, but mostly within the margin of error.
This victory in the Supreme Court—one of many victories for voters this election season—keeps President Obama’s re-election hopes alive.