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Whose votes count, whose don't? The legal landscape before Election Day

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Thus, in four different voter ID cases decided by different judges with different political orientations, two of the laws were struck down and two were upheld. But, perhaps most significant, all four were effectively blocked from use during the 2012 election.

Early voting

Another hotly contested area of preelection litigation involved early voting.

The Republican-controlled legislatures in Ohio and Florida passed laws cutting back on the amount of time available to cast an early ballot before Election Day on Nov. 6.

The Obama Justice Department, the Obama reelection campaign, and Obama supporters argued that minority voters were more likely than other voters to cast their ballots on the weekend before Election Day.

They cited a successful “souls to the polls” campaign in which religious groups provided buses to take parishioners to vote after the Sunday service. They accused Republican lawmakers of trying to suppress voters likely to support Mr. Obama.

In Ohio, the new law ended early voting for most voters on the Friday before Nov. 6. But the legislature allowed military and overseas voters to continue casting early ballots Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before Election Day.

The Obama campaign filed suit, arguing that if some voters were allowed to continue to vote over the weekend, then all voters should be allowed to do so.

A federal judge and a federal appeals court panel agreed. The court ordered Ohio election officials to extend early voting for three more days – Saturday, Sunday, and Monday – prior to Election Day.

Similar to the effort in Ohio, the Legislature in Florida passed a measure in 2011 that ended early voting on the weekend before the election.

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