Supreme Court stay halts early voting in Ohio News
Supreme Court stay halts early voting in Ohio

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Monday granted a stay [order, PDF] preventing Ohio polls from opening Tuesday for those wishing to cast their vote early in the upcoming November mid-term elections. The 5-4 decision stayed the September 4 order [order, PDF] from the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio [official website] requiring the restoration of early voting hours that were eliminated by a recent state law [SB 238, text]. The stay will remain in effect until the Supreme Court decides whether to hear the case. Even if the court accepts the case, the dispute will likely not be resolved before the November elections, as the Supreme Court’s fall term does not start until October 6.

After the 2004 general elections, in which state citizens waited as long as 12 hours to cast their ballot, Ohio established early voting. Earlier this year the Republican state legislature [official website] cut a week off this early voting period as well as certain extended evening and weekend polling hours. That additional week overlapped with the last week of voter registration, making it possible for voters to register and vote with only one trip to the polls. The Ohio branch of the NAACP [advocacy website] challenged this reduction of polling hours, arguing it would suppress voter turnout, especially of the poor and minorities. The state argued that the extension would be costly and increase voter fraud and emphasized there is still an early voting period of 28 days, including some weekend days. The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] had upheld the district court’s order to restore the additional polling time.