A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio [official website] issued a preliminary injunction on Friday that will prevent Ohio Secretary of State John Husted [official website] from limiting early election voting in the three days preceding the election to members of the Armed Forces. In deciding that polls must be kept open to all Ohioans, US District Judge Peter Economus ruled that Ohio Revised Code section 3509.03 is unconstitutional [Ohio Watchdog report] because it changes the deadline for in-person voting from the close of business on the day before election day to 6:00PM on the preceding Friday. He also ruled that this provision violates the Equal Protection Clause [LII Backgrounder; JURIST news archive] of the US Constitution.
Over the past several weeks federal courts throughout the country have blocked or voided new voting rules seeking to restrict early voting and other processes related to elections. On Thursday a three-judge panel in the US District Court for the District of Columbia unanimously rejected [JURIST report] a Texas law requiring voters to present photo identification to election officials before casting their ballots. And this past Tuesday a judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida blocked [JURIST report] Florida from implementing a portion of its controversial voting law that shortens the deadlines for groups conducting voter registration drives to submit registration forms to the state. On Monday a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio blocked [JURIST report] a state election law adopted in 2006 that discards provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct. In mid-August the US District Court for the District of Columbia declined to approve [JURIST report] changes to Florida election law that would have reduced the number of early voting days in five of the state's 67 counties.