The NAACP is celebrating a Supreme Court decision today that will allow early voting in Ohio. Without even needing to deliberate, the United States Supreme Court turned back the law that restricted early voting in the state.
The win in Ohio may have been the biggest yet, as the state has recently been highlighted by both Republican candidate Mitt Romney and President Obama as a must win. Many suspect that Ohio Republicans were targeting the weekend before Nov. 6 because many elderly African American and minority churches use that Sunday to vote. Large groups take busses straight from church to the polling place to cast their ballots.
“The high court’s decision again demonstrates the tide is turning in the fight to protect voting rights across the United States,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “Early voting is a critical tool for so many hard working Americans that don’t have the luxury of taking off work or standing in long lines on Election Day. We will continue to fight until all attempts to suppress voter participation are turned back.”
The Obama campaign and Democrats in Ohio had challenged the law, which allowed only voters in the military and their families to cast ballots in person three days before the election. They argued successfully that the law would burden tens of thousands of Ohio voters who had been able to vote during the same time period in previous elections.
In 2008 approximately 105,000 voters in Ohio took advantage of the early vote in the three days prior to the election.
NAACP officials in Ohio called the ruling confirmation that voting was a “right and not a privilege.”
“Restrictions on access to the ballot box are an affront to our democracy,” NAACP Ohio State Conference President Sybil Edwards McNabb said. “The Supreme Court decision reaffirms the federal court’s ruling, deciding that voters should be able to to cast their votes in person without risking their jobs, income, or family responsibilities. The NAACP and our allies will continue to stand in one voice against voter suppression.”
In the past few months, laws restricting access to the ballot have been successfully fought in Florida, Wisconsin, Texas, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania while gubernatorial vetoes have limited similar legislation in Michigan and Virginia.
Last December, the NAACP released the report “Defending Democracy” which detailed the various attacks on voting rights, including cuts to early voting across the country.