3:53PM EDT October 16. 2012 - Early voting will proceed as planned in Ohio, as the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a Republican request to get involved in a dispute over the state's plan.
President Obama's campaign and Ohio Democrats had sued over a state law that would have ended early voting three days before the Nov. 6 Election Day, except for military personnel and residents living overseas.
A federal appeals court sided with the Democrats, and re-instated voting in the three days before the election.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, asked the Supreme Court.to take up the case, but it said no.
USA TODAY's Richard Wolf provides background on the Ohio case and other legal voting issues.
Obama campaign general counsel Bob Bauer said the high court's refusal to get involved in the Ohio case "marks the end of the road in our fight to ensure open voting this year for all Ohioans, including military, veterans and overseas voters. We now turn our full attention to educating Ohio voters on when and how they can vote along with presenting the clear choice they face when selecting their next president."
Wendy Weiser of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law said the decision "keeps in place counties' ability to offer three days of early voting that are especially critical to Ohio's minority voters."
Proponents of the law said that ending early voting three days before Election Day would help local election boards prepare with fewer distractions.
After the high court's announcement,.Husted set uniform early voting hours in all of Ohio's 88 counties for the three days before Election Day: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday and 8 a.m to 2 p.m. on Monday.
"Despite the court's decision today to deny our request for a stay, I firmly believe Ohio and its elected legislature should set the rules with respect to elections in Ohio, and not the federal court system," Husted said. "However, the time has come to set aside the issue for this election."
Democrats said nearly 100,000 people voted in the three days before the election in 2008.
The court acted -- or, rather, declined to act -- just hours before Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney meet in the second of three election debates.
As pointed out in The Oval blog, Ohio is a key state in the Obama-Romney race -- and both campaigns see early voting as essential to their success there.