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Obama for America v. Husted

Obama for America v. Husted (Case 2:12cv00636), United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, is the controversial “early voting” challenge receiving national attention because of Ohio’s history of being a  swing state in national elections. The issue before District Judge Economus is deciding if recent amendments to ORC 3509.03, which eliminate in-person voting the three days before Election Day, violate 42 USCA 1983 and/or the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment (by treating most voters differently than those covered by the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act, who would still be able to vote early in person).

Court filings for the case have been gathered by the Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law blog,  Election Law@Moritz.

Here you can find everything from the complaint to the U.S. Court of Appeals expedited brief schedule, in PDF. Additionally, law faculty have provided commentary on specific topics of interest.

As important as the decision in this case is for the 2012 Presidential election, the future of voting in Ohio is the real battleground. Ari Berman, in a Aug., 2011 Rolling Stone article entitled, “The GOP War on Voting,” wrote:

Just as Dixiecrats once used poll taxes and literacy tests to bar black Southerners from voting, a new crop of GOP governors and state legislators has passed a series of seemingly disconnected measures that could prevent millions of students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and elderly from casting ballots.

An Aug. 19, 2012 article by Darrel Rowland of the Columbus Dispatch, “Voting in Ohio: Fight Over Poll Hours Isn’t Just Political,” reports on an email sent by Doug Preisse, Franklin County Republican Party Chairman and election board member, that read “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine… Let’s be fair and reasonable.”

Writing for the Cleveland Plain Dealer Sabrina Eaton  reported on September 6 that the Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr. urged Ohio delegates to the Democratic Convention to stop “voting thievery” in Ohio.

“You can win and still lose unless you stop the thievery…,” Jackson said. … Jackson was referring to controversies over GOP efforts to reduce the hours for early voting in Ohio, which [weekend hours] the Democrats used to their advantage in 2008 by organizing ‘Souls to the Polls’ events that got churchgoers to vote the Sunday before election day. Republicans argue the extended voting hours pose hardships for financially strapped local election boards.

When asked about the expense for local election boards, Aaron Ockerman, executive director of the Ohio Association of Election Officials, told Dispatch reporter Darrel Rowland that “we would make it work” if directed to stay open until, say, noon the Saturday before the election.