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Obama For America Files Motion To Enforce Early Voting In Ohio

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Obama For America filed a motion Wednesday asking a federal court to enforce three days of early voting in Ohio before the 2012 election.

The motion came in response to a directive issued by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who stated that new voting hours would not be announced until an appeals court ruled on a dispute over early voting in the state.

"Having sought no stay, either in this Court or the Court of Appeals, the State appears to believe it can issue one on its own authority," the motion reads. "Nowhere in this Directive does the Secretary identify the legal basis for this extraordinary action."

Husted, a Republican, wrote in a directive Tuesday that adding new voting hours would only serve to "confuse" voters before the appeals court ruling.

Obama for America filed a lawsuit to restore three days of voting before Election Day in Ohio, after a state law passed in 2011 curtailed early voting for everyone except members of the military. A federal court ruled on OFA's lawsuit on Friday, restoring the early voting period.

"On balance, the right of Ohio voters to vote in person during the last three days prior to Election Day -- a right previously conferred to all voters by the State -- outweighs the State's interest in setting the 6 p.m. Friday deadline," the ruling read.

Plaintiffs also showed statistical evidence that cutting the last three days of voting -- used by some 93,000 Ohio voters in 2008 -- would disproportionately affect low-income and minority voters, which the defense did not counter.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) filed notice of an appeal Tuesday. Husted added there "is no valid reason for my office or the county boards of elections to set hours for in-person absentee voting the last three days before the election at this time."

The outcome of the early voting case is likely to affect the result of the 2012 election in Ohio, a perennial swing state.

UPDATE: District Judge Peter Economus, who wrote Friday's decision in favor of the plaintiffs, granted a hearing on the motion for Sept. 13. The court ordered Husted to personally attend the hearing.

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