Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted will ask the Supreme Court to reverse an appeals court ruling that would permit counties to allow early voting on the weekend before next month's election.
In a statement today, Husted said he "will be asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Ohio law through the appeals process."
The Obama campaign has fought to keep the polls open that weekend in the latest in a long series of partisan battles over the state's election administration.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals had held on Friday that it was unconstitutional for Ohio law to permit some Ohio voters — those voting under a federal statute affecting some service members and families — to vote on the weekend before the election but not others. Under the ruling, if a country allowed any voters to cast their ballots in person on the weekend before the election, it would have to do so for all voters.
Husted took aim at the county-by-county aspect of the appeals court's ruling, saying today, "This ruling not only doesn’t make legal sense, it doesn’t make practical sense. The court is saying that all voters must be treated the same way under Ohio law, but also grants Ohio’s 88 elections boards the authority to establish 88 different sets of rules. That means that one county may close down voting for the final weekend while a neighboring county may remain open. How any court could consider this a remedy to an equal protection problem is stunning."
The move means that Husted apparently is bypassing an attempt at appealing Friday's three-judge panel ruling before the full Sixth Circuit — called en banc review — before seeking Supreme Court review.
UPDATE: Obama campaign general counsel Bob Bauer released a statement:
"There is no justification for the state’s arbitrary actions this year in trying to deny the vast majority of its voters access to open polling places for the last three days before the election. This has been the unanimous conclusion of the courts that have considered this case.
"The Secretary of State has now chosen to extend the litigation and to ask the United States Supreme Court to intervene just four weeks before the election. We have no reason to believe that he will meet with any more success now than before.
"It is a shame that the Secretary would not have committed his office's energy instead to implementing the outstanding court orders and administering the orderly and effective early voting process that has served Ohio voters so well since 2005."