Hours after a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit Courts said it would not set aside a lower court's ruling that all Ohio voters be allowed to cast ballots in the three days before the Nov. 6 election, business was usual inside the Obama Campaign office in Akron.
While news of the victory had reached the office, workers were still busy fielding calls, handing out signs, pens, posters and dealing with the non stop flow of traffic coming in and out of the medium sized office in the Wallhaven district of Akron's westside. The mood was still festive, though, as the highest court in the land ruled that if Ohio is going to open polls for military voters during the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before the election, it must allow all voters to participate.
In what has become a key battle ground state in this year's 2012 Presidential Election, the Obama campaign sued the state over its decision to end early voting on the Friday before the election for the public except members of the military.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) said the state had an unprecedented amount of early voting and local election officials needed the three days to prepare for Election Day. He decided not to ask the full 6th Circuit to review the panel's decision, and went straight to the Supreme Court.
The Obama campaign said the decision would disproportionately affect poor, elderly and low-income voters, who are most likely to take advantage of early voting. The courts upheld that line of thinking with their ruling. "While there is a compelling reason to provide more opportunities for military voters to cast their ballots, there is no corresponding satisfactory reason to prevent nonmilitary voters from casting their ballots as well."
In a statement released by the Campaign, Obama for America released the following statement from General Counsel Bob Bauer in reaction to today's Supreme Court decision:
"We are pleased that the US Supreme Court declined to overturn federal court rulings that every Ohioan be allowed to vote during the weekend and Monday before the election. This action from the highest court in the land marks the end of the road in our fight to ensure open voting this year for all Ohioans, including military, veterans, and overseas voters. We now turn our full attention to educating Ohio voters on when and how they can vote along with presenting the clear choice they face when selecting their next President."
The court also advised that local officials could decided whether to open polls during those three days before the election. Secretary of State Jon Husted said it is important the state have uniform rules, and promptly informed all state local officials to open polls all three days.
Husted had been accepting boards' recommendations for hours on the disputed days, in the event his appeal wasn't successful. About an hour after the high court's decision, Husted ordered uniform hours across the state. The hours are from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3; from 1 - 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 4; and from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 5.