-By Luke Johnson
August 31, 2012- A federal judge sided with the Obama campaign and ruled Friday to order Ohio to restore three days of early voting before Election Day, a decision that could affect the outcome of the 2012 election in a key battleground state.
Judge Peter C. Economus of the Southern District Court of Ohio granted an injunction in favor of Obama For America, the Democratic National Committee and the Ohio Democratic Party, which sued Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to restore in-person voting in the last weekend before the election.
"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," ruled the court. "The burden on Ohio voters' right to participate in the national and statewide election is great, as evidenced by the statistical analysis offered by Plaintiffs and not disputed by Defendants. Moreover, the State fails to articulate a precise, compelling interest in establishing the 6 p.m. Friday deadline as applied to non-UOCAVA [Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act] voters and has failed to evidence any commitment to the 'exception' it rhetorically extended to UOCAVA voters."
The dispute over military voting spilled into the presidential campaign earlier this month, when the Mitt Romney campaign falsely accused the Obama campaign of trying to curtail rights for military voters, characterizing the lawsuit as an "outrage" and an effort to deprive military voters of extra days to vote.
The Obama campaign lawsuit seeks to expand the voting period for all voters, not to deprive military voters of that opportunity. The judge sided with the Obama camp, calling the early voting restrictions "arbitrary."
The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.