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Appeals panel upholds Ohio ruling allowing early voting

| Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014, 7:24 p.m.

COLUMBUS — A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld an order from an Ohio judge that expands the swing state's voting schedule this fall and allows early ballots to be cast next week.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel concluded that none of the interests put forward by the state's attorneys sufficiently justified the burden found to be placed on certain voters by two election-related measures.

The 3-0 decision was made after a federal judge temporarily blocked an Ohio law trimming early voting and ordered the state's elections chief to set additional times that included evening hours. The ruling moved the start of early voting to Tuesday instead of Oct. 7.

U.S. District Judge Peter Economus also barred Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted from preventing local elections boards from adopting additional early voting hours beyond his order.

The state appealed the decision to the federal appeals court in Cincinnati, arguing that Ohio's early voting schedule exceeds most states and does not burden voters.

Attorneys for Ohio said the lower court must be overturned because its decision set up a framework that “if accepted, would leave one to wonder whether many States with far fewer early-voting options have breached the Equal Protection Clause.”

The appeals panel found that Economus' temporary injunction “would not cause substantial harm to others and that the public interest weighs in its favor.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed the lawsuit on behalf of several black churches and the state's chapters of the NAACP and the League of Women Voters.

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