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Ohio AG files response urging Supreme Court to hear early voting appeal

Ohio officials on Saturday urged [brief, PDF] the US Supreme Court [official website] to approve its request for an emergency stay of an injunction against the state's new early voting regulation. The brief was filed after US President Barack Obama's campaign staff [campaign website] and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) [advocacy website] filed a brief [text, PDF] Friday calling on [JURIST report] the Supreme Court to reject Ohio's request. The Obama campaign's Friday filing was a response to Ohio's initial emergency appeal [JURIST report] to the Supreme Court earlier last week after the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] ruled that the early voting polls in Ohio should remain open until election day. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Attorney General Mike DeWine [official websites] have asked the Supreme Court to review the case given the "extraordinary circumstances" surrounding the matter as well as the rapidly approaching November election. The Obama campaign and DNC argue the case does not warrant review by the Supreme Court, but Ohio officials contends that "a decision striking down a state law as facially unconstitutional on the eve of an election is the definition of an important case." The Supreme Court has now received all briefs and is expected to act on the case soon.

Voting rights [JURIST backgrounder] have been the subject of significant debate and court decisions throughout this election cycle. Last week a federal court ruled South Carolina's new voter ID law [JURIST report] does not promote discrimination, allowing it to take effect next year. While strict voter ID laws still remain intact in a handful of jurisdictions [NCSL backgrounder], state and federal courts have recently been very active in reducing the requirements necessary to vote in the upcoming election. Earlier this month, the Mississippi voter ID law [JURIST report] was delayed beyond the November election pending federal review while the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court on remand from the state's Supreme Court issued a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] against new legislation requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls. In September the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] approved a New Hampshire law [JURIST report] requiring those who are unable to present a government issued ID will be permitted to cast a regular ballot after they sign a qualified voter affidavit and allow for a photograph to be taken of themselves at the polling location. In contrast, the DOJ rejected a stricter Texas law [JURIST report] on the grounds that it would disproportionately impact the state's Latino voters and promote discrimination.

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