The U.S. Supreme Court on Sept. 29 issued a stay on a decision by lower federal courts that had extended early voting hours in Ohio, effectively reverting the state’s early voting schedule back to one drawn up by conservative lawmakers.
U.S. District Court Judge Peter Economus originally ruled a limited early voting schedule unconstitutional because it made voting more difficult for minorities. He ordered the state to revert to past, more extensive early voting schedules. The ruling was in a response to civil rights lawsuits against the state by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The current schedule, which is in effect due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s stay on Economus’ decision, eliminated the so-called “Golden Week” from Sept. 30 to Oct. 6 during which Ohio residents could simultaneously register and vote. It also eliminated a number of weekend and evening voting hours leading up to the state’s Nov. 6 elections.
The current schedule allows for 197 hours of early voting, including 16 hours the weekend before the election — a big reduction from the one Economus ordered the state to follow, which provided for 259 hours of early voting, including 24 hours of voting on evenings and weekends.
Under the Supreme Court’s stay, Ohioans may currently vote weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting Oct. 7 through Election Day Nov. 6. They may also vote Saturdays Oct. 25 and Nov. 1 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday Nov. 2 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
In a video released to the Justice Department’s website Oct. 6, outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder objected to the Supreme Court’s decision, calling it “a major step backward” for voters.