In another voting rights victory, a federal appeals court has blocked the state of Ohio from cutting off its early voting hours. As we reported in August, Ohio’s Secretary of State, Jon Husted, cut off early voting the weekend before the election.
Because black churches encourage their congregants to vote after services the Sunday before Election Day, Husted’s move would have disproportionately affected black voters. The new rule would have allowed military voters to cast their ballots in person through the weekend–but not any others. Today’s ruling doesn’t mandate all polling places to remain open for early hours; local elections boards will make that decision.
ColorOfChange.org led a campaign to pressure Secretary Husted, a Republican, to guarantee access to the polls for everyone in Ohio. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama’s campaign sued the state to allow early voting the weekend before Election Day.
ColorOfChange.org Executive Director Rashad Robinson issued the following statement after today’s ruling:
"Today’s decision is in line with what members of the ColorOfChange community have long known: Black, low-income and elderly voters as well as students and other groups are more likely to vote if they have a broader range of opportunities to do so. Ohioans now need to demand that county boards of election open their doors those three days before Election Day so that everyone can take advantage of those weekend hours.
"We cannot afford to have November 6th be a replay of the 2004 election debacle, in which many Ohioans waited upwards of 10 hours in line to vote. By calling for an end to weekend voting throughout the month of October, Secretary of State Husted has indicated that he wants a return to that kind of election, in which Black Ohioans and other groups that typically vote Democratic were disenfranchised. It’s a shame that Mr. Husted is playing partisan politics by putting barriers to the polls. Our community is still calling on him to open the polls all remaining weekends in October. Beyond that, it is our strong hope that Mr. Husted complies with today’s ruling and instructs the county boards of election to immediately make arrangements for voting for the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before Election Day."
You can read more about Ohio from our Community Journalist Nelson Pierce, who’s written about voting as a matter of faith.