Friday, August 31, 2012

Vote Of Confidence In Ohio

A federal judge has overruled Ohio GOP Secretary of State Jon Husted and has restored early voting for all Ohioans on all days, including weekend voting, that were available in 2008.

U.S. District Court Senior Judge Peter C. Economus ordered Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted not to enforce a state law passed last year that closed that window to in-person early voting to anyone but members of the military and their families.
"This Court notes that restoring in-person early voting to all Ohio voters through the Monday before Election Day does not deprive (military) voters from early voting,'' wrote Judge Economus, a Clinton appointee. "Instead, and more importantly, it places all Ohio voters on equal standing.
"The only hindrance to (military) early voting is the Secretary of State's failure to set uniform hours at elections boards during the last three days before Election Day,'' he wrote. "On balance, the right of Ohio voters to vote in person during the last three days prior to Election Day -- a right previously conferred to all voters by the State -- outweighs the State's interest in setting the 6 p.m. Friday deadline.''

This is pretty massive, folks.   The full decision (PDF) is here, and super bonus points for justifying the injunction having the merit of the OFA argument succeeding in higher courts by citing -- get this now -- Bush v. Gore.

The right to vote is protected in more than the initial allocation of the franchise.  Equal protection applies as well to the manner of its exercise.  Having once granted the right to vote on equal terms, the State may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person’s vote over that of another.   It must be remembered that the right of suffrage can be denied by a debasement or dilution of the weight of a citizen’s vote just as effectively as by wholly prohibiting the free exercise of the franchise. 

Well played, Judge Economus.  Well played, indeed.  Your move, Mr. Husted.

[UPDATE]  And Husted and Ohio GOP Attorney General Mike DeWine have indeed made their move, immediately appealing the case to the 6th Circuit here in Cincy.  The optics of Republicans going to court in order to stop people from voting in a swing state like Ohio?  Is DeWine crazy, stupid, evil, or all three?

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