An Ohio federal district judge today granted a preliminary injunction (PDF) to President Obama's re-election campaign and other plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging changes to Ohio's early voting law. U.S. District Judge Peter Economus halted new rules that would have lessened the amount of early voting time for residents not covered by rules for military personnel and others overseas.
Under the proposed changes, in-person early voting would be open to Ohio residents until 6 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day and through the Monday before Election Day for voters covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act. Under the previous law, early voting for everyone ended the Monday before Election Day.
Economus found that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on their constitutional challenge to the changes and that state officials failed to show that keeping early voting for everyone through Monday would create an undue burden for state election officials.
The Obama campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the Ohio Democratic Party sued state officials last month, claiming the proposed revisions would unconstitutionally infringe on the right to vote and that in creating separate rules for different residents, the changes violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution as well.
Ohio state officials had countered that the changes were needed because early voting had placed a heavy burden on election officials in the days leading up to the official election day.
"[T]his Court notes that restoring in-person early voting to all Ohio voters through the Monday before Election Day does not deprive UOCAVA voters from early voting. Instead, and more importantly, it places all Ohio voters on equal standing," Economus wrote.
Lead counsel for the plaintiffs include attorneys with McTigue & McGinnis in Columbus, Ohio; Perkins Coie's Robert Bauer, who is general counsel for the Obama re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee; and Obama campaign lawyer Jennifer Katzman.
The Ohio attorney general's office has been supported in defending the early voting changes by attorneys with Bricker & Eckler in Columbus, Ohio, and Washington's Wiley Rein.