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Ohio files appeal to early voting decision

Ohio officials on Monday asked a federal appeals court to overturn a lower court ruling requiring Ohio's three-day early voting to be available to military and civilians alike. Ohio Secretary of State John Husted and Attorney General Mike DeWine [official websites] filed an appeal [Bloomberg report] in the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth District [official website] hoping to reinstate Ohio Revised Code section 3509.03 after it was declared unconstitutional [opinion, PDF] last month. The Ohio code would have had instituted a longer early voting period for military personnel compared to the civilian population but was successfully challenged [JURIST report] in a lawsuit by Obama for America, which claimed that the different election periods for different groups of citizens violated the Equal Protection Clause [LII Backgrounder; JURIST news archive] of the US Constitution.

Over the past few months federal courts throughout the country have blocked or voided new voting rules seeking to restrict early voting and other processes related to elections. In August 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. Also in August 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. In addition, last month 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.

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