The state Democratic party in Ohio and some of its county organizations and voters asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to reinstate five days of early voting in this year’s general election — the so-called “Golden Week” that had been heavily used by black and low-income voters, who tend to support Democratic candidates.
Enacted eight years ago, after a debacle that resulted in very long lines at voting places in the 2004 elections in Ohio, “Golden Week” was eliminated by the state legislature three years ago, and that action has been tied up in court challenges since then. Two years ago, on the very eve of the start of early voting, the Supreme Court split 5-to-4 in blocking it. That case, though, was settled before the Justices could rule on the validity of the early voting option.
In a close election in a battleground state such as Ohio, early voting can potentially affect outcomes. In the 2004 election, 60,000 voters — many of whom were black and had low incomes — cast ballots during Golden Week, and in 2012 the comparable figure was 80,000. President Obama won the state in both elections, with strong support among minorities.
The new Democratic plea to the Court argued that Republican officials in the state have been working since the 2012 election to arrow voting opportunities for those likely to support Democrats — including the elimination of Golden Week in 2013. In a split decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected the Democratic challenge to the elimination of this voting option....