COLUMBUS, Ohio (CN) – Rebuffing challenges by the Republican Party, the Ohio Supreme Court and a federal judge in Cleveland allowed Ohio voters to register and cast absentee ballots on the same day.
The state and federal courts upheld a weeklong early voting period, which begins today and runs through Oct. 6.
Republicans challenged Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner’s decision to allow Tuesday’s launch of absentee voting to overlap with the Oct. 6 end of voter registration. They argued that voters need to be registered for at least 30 days before receiving an absentee ballot. Plaintiffs claimed Brunner, a Democrat, had interpreted state law to favor her party.
The state high court ruled 4-3 that Brunner had correctly concluded that Ohioans can vote within 30 days of registering.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge James S. Gwin in Cleveland issued a temporary restraining order forcing Madison County to follow Brunner’s directive. The county had said its prosecutor advised it to wait until voters have been registered 30 days before distributing absentee ballots.
“With regard to the interpretation of Ohio law, Defendant Brunner obviously determined the issue correctly,” Gwin wrote. “Madison County’s position would lead to illogical results, potentially disenfranchising large numbers of voters.”
The Ohio Supreme Court contains six Republican justices and one Democrat. Judge Gwin was appointed by President Bill Clinton.