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U.S. Judge Denies Bid to Stay Ohio Ruling on Early Voting

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted lost a bid for a U.S. court order delaying enforcement of an Aug. 31 ruling equalizing the number of early voting days for all the state’s citizens before the Nov. 6 national election.

President Barack Obama’s campaign organization and the Ohio and national Democratic parties sued Husted in July arguing it was unconstitutional for the state to grant three more early or absentee voting days to those residents in the armed forces or living overseas than to all other voters.

U.S. District Judge Peter Economus agreed, ruling that all the state’s citizens must be allowed to cast pre-Election Day ballots through Nov. 5. Husted then asked the judge for an order delaying enforcement of his decree until the federal appeals court in Cincinnati and then, potentially, the U.S. Supreme Court reviews the case.

“Defendant Husted has not provided sufficiently compelling reasons in support of a stay,” Economus said in a ruling today, rejecting the secretary of state’s argument that voter confusion would result if the ruling were later reversed.

Republican Party candidate Mitt Romney or Obama must accumulate at least 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency on Nov. 6. Ohio controls 18 of those votes and no Republican nominee has won the office without also carrying the state.

Follow Ruling

The judge was appointed to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, in 1995. Husted and state Attorney General Mike DeWine, who was named as a co-defendant in the case, are Republicans.

“The secretary does intend to follow the judge’s ruling,” Matt McClellan, a spokesman for Husted, said today in a telephone interview.

While the court’s ruling cited the secretary of state’s desire for certainty so he can set uniform polling place hours during the early voting days in question, McClellan said he had no information as to when those times would be set.

The case is Obama for America v. Husted, 12-cv-00636, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio (Columbus).

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