Early voting in Ohio the weekend before the election was restored for all voters Friday by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, giving President Barack Obama’s campaign another victory in its legal battles with Republicans over voting issues.
The state’s Republican-led administration had imposed a measure that allowed voting that weekend only for members of the military and people living overseas, arguing that the state had to reduce the strain on the election system from statewide early balloting.
Democrats and Obama’s campaign had cried foul, arguing that the measure unfairly disenfranchised minorities and others who often wait until the last weekend. Those voters are considered likelier to back the Democratic candidates.
Ohio is a critical state in the presidential campaign. No Republican has won the presidency for more than 100 years without winning Ohio. Obama holds an edge in the state over Mitt Romney in most public polls.
The decision by the appeals court Friday was just one of a series of victories for Obama’s campaign, which has been fighting legal battles in several states over the question of access to the ballot box in the election next month.
In Pennsylvania, a judge this week temporarily blocked a state law that would have required the state’s voters to provide a photo ID card to vote in the presidential election. This summer, a federal judge blocked a Florida law that would have made it harder for organizations to register people to vote. In that case, the law would have imposed penalties on groups that did not follow specific guidelines and timelines.
Advocates said the laws are needed to combat voter fraud. Democrats see it as an effort to make it harder for Democratic constituencies to vote.
Ohio election officials could appeal Friday’s ruling.
— New York Times News Service