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Obama campaign urges Supreme Court to reject Ohio early voting appeal

US President Barack Obama's campaign staff [campaign website] and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) [advocacy website] on Friday urged [response, PDF] the US Supreme Court [official website] to reject Ohio's request for an emergency stay of an injunction against the state's new early voting regulation. The new regulation [HB 194] would end early voting for everyone except overseas military members three days before election day. The state enacted the bill in July as the most recent amendment to its election process. Obama's campaign and the DNC challenged the law as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause [Cornell LII backgrounder] because of its alleged impact on certain groups of voters. Ohio filed an emergency appeal [JURIST report] to the Supreme Court earlier this week after the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] that the early voting polls should remain open until election day. In its response, the Obama campaign argued that this is an "unprecedented" law that "allow[s] local election boards to open their polling places to some qualified voters over the last three days prior to Election Day, while precluding those boards from permitting other voters to access those same polling places during the same period." It also urged the Supreme Court to deny certiorari because it alleged Ohio's request "does not meet this Court's criteria for granting a stay" as it would only be considering a "fact-bound [contention] that may have no effect on other cases."

Voting laws have been a controversial issue and the subject of much litigation throughout this election year. Earlier this week the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] upheld [JURIST report] a preliminary injunction against an Ohio state election law adopted in 2006 that discards provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct. A federal court on Wednesday upheld a South Carolina voter ID law, but ruled that the state could not enforce the law until 2013 [JURIST report] because of the short time left to implement it without discriminatory effects. A similar ruling was issued in Pennsylvania earlier this month. A judge for the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the state's voter identification law from taking effect [JURIST report] for the upcoming presidential election, but allowed it to be implemented in future elections. Last month a federal judge ruled [JURIST report] that Florida does not have to provide 96 hours of early voting after the state's governor signed an amendment decreasing the time required.

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