Update: Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has finally given up pushing Republican efforts to block early voting for most people in Ohio. Late this afternoon he issued a directive (PDF) requiring polls to be open for uniform hours statewide the three days before the election, as Democrats and voting rights advocates have been demanding.
Back in 2004 there were major problems on election day in Ohio, with long lines in overcrowded polling places. Some were never able to vote at all. To deal with this, Ohio (like many other states) introduced early voting, which proved especially popular with people whose jobs made it hard to vote on election day itself.
This year Ohio Republicans tried to cancel early voting on the weekend before the election except for members of the military and their immediate families, who, as it happens, tend to vote Republican.
Democrats and voting rights advocates took it to the courts and won: The Constitutional requirement of equal protection means that if the polls are open, they have to be open for everyone. As a last resort, Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted tried to get the United States Supreme Court to intervene, but the Court refused. So military personnel and their families will be able to vote early, and so will most other Ohioans who want or need to.
Here’s how Fox News covered this, and I’m not making it up:
Ohio’s voting laws are going to be changing, it would appear. There was an early voting program voted in by the state of Ohio for military members and their families. They were to be allowed to vote early. The Democrats and the Obama campaign asked that that be blocked. They, for whatever reason, did not want military families and military members voting extra early. A couple of lower courts blocked the law — again, at the request of the Obama campaign and state Democratic officials. Now it’s gone to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is going along with that block. According to our Shannon Bream, who covers the Supreme Court for us, we believe that is what is going to result from all of this is that everybody in Ohio is going to be allowed extra-early voting. No special privileges for military members and their families.
At least they got the last two sentences right.
This wasn’t the first time they misrepresented the issue. In early August on “Special Report” the guest host, Shannon Bream, claimed that Democrats were suing to stop military voters from having extra time to cast their ballots, whereas the suit was in fact to preserve early voting for everybody in the state, military included.