‘OHIO OHIO OHIO’- Secretary of State Appeals Early Voting Decision To U.S. Supreme Court

Will Obama turnout and saving auto industry keep Ohio blue? Or, will Romney surge and voter suppression give Romney a path to 270 Electoral Votes?

Last week a federal appeals court rejected efforts by Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State, Jon Husted, to restrict early voting in the state in the final three-days before the November 6th General Election. The suit brought by the Obama Campaign, cited the “equal protection” provisions under the U.S. Constitution, in that  Husted would have allowed the three-day period of early voting to stand only for members of the military and not the entire electorate. In announcing his appeal of the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court,  Husted claimed,

“This is an unprecedented intrusion by the federal courts into how states run elections and because of its impact on all 50 states as to who and how elections will be run in America we are asking the Supreme Court to step in and allow Ohioans to run Ohio elections.”

The appeals court, in restoring the three days of early voting, said voters would be “irreperably injured,” yet—curiously—left early voting hours determinations to Ohio’s 88-county election boards. Bob Bauer, General Counsel for the Obama Campaign, decried the continuing litigation by the state, just four-weeks before the election, saying, “There is no justification for the state’s arbitrary actions this year in trying to deny the majority of its voters access to open polling places for the last three days before the election.”

As the campaign heads into its final weeks, tensions are mounting…particularly in bitterly contested battleground, swing states such as Ohio. No Republican presidential candidate has ever won the presidency without carrying the Buckeye State. While the state went to President Obama by nearly 300,000 votes in 2008, the previous two presidential elections–in 2000 and 2004—were logistics nightmares for voters, election officials and the courts. Fraught with long lines and hours of waiting at the polls, several court rulings were required; both to keep polls open long after their scheduled closing time and to prompt the state to expand early voting times and procedures that Republican officials are now trying to restrict.

The importance of Ohio and its 18-electoral votes is seen as critical to the winner of this close presidential election. While the Electoral College map favors President Obama, making Ohio less critical to his reelection, the state is viewed as all but essential to Romney’s chances of capturing the White House. While Romney could conceivably win the presidency without Ohio, he would virtually have to “run-the-table” in all the other swing states…a prospect that is doubtful as Ohio is seen as a ‘bellwether’ state, indicative of how other close state races are likely to play out in November,

The importance of Ohio this year is eerily reminiscent of just how close the election was in 2004, relative to the electoral vote. While George W. Bush won  reelection with three-million more votes than Democratic candidate, John Kerry, the margin in Ohio was less than 120,000 and–had Kerry won Ohio’s then 20-electoral votes–he would have won the presidency with a total of 271 and reversed the outcome of 2000, when Bush lost the popular vote but won in the Electoral College by carrying Florida…and Ohio! In 2004, the late “Meet the Press” moderator, Tim Russert, famously noted (VIDEO) the close contest, saying that it came down to “OHIO OHIO OHIO.”

It is little wonder then, that the two campaigns are blitzing the Buckeye State with endless advertising and stump speech after stump speech by the candidates and their political surrogates. For his part, Mitt Romney is trying to capitalize on last week’s debate momentum that has seen him close the polling gap in Ohio to only four-points behind the President, a substantial gain from where he stood before the October 3rd, first presidential debate. Meanwhile, the President appeared at Ohio State University, imploring students to “grab your friends and go vote.”

The President had built a sizeable lead in Ohio, parlaying the state’s better unemployment numbers, below the 7.8% national average, credited largely to the Administration saving the U.S. auto industry, which greatly benefited Ohio’s auto plants and parts suppliers, while Romney suffered criticism for saying and writing, on a 2008 New York Times Op Ed, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”

The President has also benefited in blue-collar Ohio from the continuing fallout from Romney’s notorious ‘secret video’ where he shows a total disregard and disrespect for 47% of the electorate. While President Obama’s lackluster debate performance has eroded some support, it appears that he is still maintaining a solid lead in Ohio, but…as political pundits are wont to say, a ‘few weeks in a political campaign’ can be a lifetime, especially with one more jobs report to come out just before the election and two more presidential debates this month, and the much-anticipated V.P. debate tomorrow night. Give ‘em hell Joe!

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