Ohio official calls feds early voting expansion an intrusion

Mike Tobin reports from Chicago


Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is appealing to the US Supreme Court -- ironically -- to get the federal courts out of the Buckeye State voting process. This is in response to a federal appeals court overturning Republican-backed restrictions on early voting. 

“This is an unprecedented intrusion by federal courts into how states run elections,” Husted said. “We are asking the Supreme Court to step in and allow Ohioans to run Ohio elections.”

Husted and Ohio Republicans wanted the polls closed to early voting starting the Friday before Election Day. His argument was that poll workers needed a window to handle the early ballots before Nov. 6. “So that local boards could account where those ballots were, make sure that voter rolls were synchronized, so that when the poll books went out to the polls on Tuesday for Election Day that no one could vote twice,” he told Fox News.

The Obama campaign, The Democratic National Committee and the state Democratic Party filed suit in July to keep the polls open right up to Election Day. They contended that the restrictions were an attempt to shut out minority voters. This references a common practice by minority churches to bus their congregations to the polling locations on Sunday before the election. Despite polls already being open for early voting, Democrats argue if you cut out those last three days, you create hardship for working voters. “You are disenfranchising an entire group of individuals: Those individuals who work during the day. Those individuals who have kids they have to pick up and take to school. Those individuals who don’t have access to transportation,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chair Chris Redfern.

There is an exception to the restriction. It allows servicemen and women to have their votes counted in the final days before the election. Democrats argued that it is unconstitutional to have one standard for the military and another standard for civilians.

On Oct. 5, a panel of judges from the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals came down on the side of the Democrats. The panel overturned the Republican-backed restrictions to early voting. Judges wrote that state officials, “proposed no interest which would justify reducing the opportunity to vote by a considerable segment of the voting population.”

As for the military vote, the judges wrote, “there is no reason to provide these voters with fewer opportunities to vote than military voters, particularly when there is not evidence that local Boards of Elections will be unable to cope with more early voters.”

If the Supreme Court does not take the case or does not take it before Election Day, the ruling from the court of appeals stands.

Michael Tobin joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Chicago-based correspondent.