Trial date set in Ohio dispute over early voting


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An August trial date has been set
in a dispute over early voting in Ohio that goes back to the last
presidential election.
President Barack Obama’s re-election
campaign and Democrats filed a lawsuit in July 2012 against the state’s
elections chief over an Ohio law that cuts off in-person, early voting
for most residents three days before Election Day.
The two sides have been unable to resolve the litigation. This week, a federal court in Columbus set an
Aug. 19 trial date.
law, passed by the General Assembly in 2011, ends in-person voting on
the Friday evening before a Tuesday election. But it allows an exception
for military and overseas voters to cast a ballot in person until
Monday. Democrats claimed that amounted to unequal treatment of voters
and said everyone should have the chance to vote on the three days
before Election Day.
U.S. District Judge Peter Economus agreed,
and in an August 2012 temporary order, he allowed voting to occur on the
final three days before the November election.
Ohio voters may cast an absentee ballot by mail or in person before Election Day without giving any
the past three years, Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, has
pressed state lawmakers to put the hours and days for early voting into
law. But the GOP-controlled Legislature has not adopted any plan.
absence of legislative action, Husted set early voting times last month
for the statewide elections this fall. He used a proposal from the
bipartisan Ohio Association of Election Officials. Of the three days at
issue in the lawsuit, voters can cast an early ballot only on the
Saturday before the coming Nov. 4 election.
A spokeswoman for
Husted said the office would like to see the lawsuit resolved before the
election, so voters know the rules before voting.
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