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In blow to Romney, court says Ohio can’t restrict 'souls to the polls' voting by blacks

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“The public interest … favors permitting as many qualified voters to vote as possible,” wrote federal Circuit Judge Eric Clay. Judge Clay said it would be “worrisome” if states “were permitted to pick and choose among groups of similarly situated voters to dole out special voting privileges.”

The focus across the nation on integrity and access to polls highlights the massive stakes for both parties around new voter registration and turnout.

While Republicans in 18 states have since last year instituted a slew of voter ID and voter registration rules in an attempt to ensure a clean election, the courts continue to frown on those, in 11 cases so far ruling in favor of easy access over fraud fears. Voter ID laws have been struck down in South Carolina and Pennsylvania, and courts have ruled against strict voter registration rules Florida.

“In the presidential race, it’s hand-to-hand legal combat, with almost every battleground state embroiled in a struggle over voter eligibility,” writes media critic Jonathan Alter in an op-ed for Bloomberg News.

In Ohio, early voting, including on the weekends, has become very popular, especially among blacks. Over 13 percent of the entire black vote came during the early voting period in 2008, compared to 8 percent of white voters who voted early. In all, 93,000 Ohioans voted in the three days leading up to the 2008 Election Day.

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