The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied Ohio's request to curtail early voting in the state leading up to the Nov. 6 presidential election.
Ohio, critical to the election hopes of Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, began early in-person voting earlier this month but planned to cut it off on Nov. 2, the Friday before the election, except for members of the military.
The Obama campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the Ohio Democratic Party had sued Ohio officials to restore early voting right up to election day eve. Republicans opposed their efforts, saying a cutoff was needed to reduce voter fraud.
In states that allow voters to cast ballots before election day, early voting and extended voting hours are thought to benefit Democratic candidates because lower-income people, who tend to vote for them, are more likely to work odd hours.
Earlier this month, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a U.S. District Court order that reinstated early voting in the final days before the election. The state had appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court.
In a one-sentence order on Tuesday, the high court denied the state's petition for a stay of the appeals court decision.
Ohio Secretary of State John Husted, the state's top elections official, called the 6th Circuit's decision an unprecedented intrusion by federal judges into state elections that was illegal and impractical.
The appeals court's decision did not require polls to be open on the final three days, leaving it up to the discretion of the state's 88 individual county election boards.
A coalition of 15 states, including Colorado, Wisconsin and Virginia, filed a supporting brief for Ohio on Friday, encouraging the court to block the 6th Circuit's ruling. They said Ohio had not placed a burden on citizens' ability to vote by eliminating the three early voting days.
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