The Indiana Supreme Court on Friday, voting 3-2, rejected to grant the GOP request to shutdown three early voting sites in Democratic cities of Gary, Hammond and East Chicago. Their closing would have put in jeopardy many residents right to vote.
Special Judge Diane Kavadias Schneider citied that many residents would not be able to travel to Crown Point to vote early and she also acknowledged that safeguards had been put in place, such as, state law requiring a photo identification to fight voter fraud.
Republican attorneys had wanted the high court to take the case directly, with both sides submitting arguments next week. Republicans argue the voting centers increase the risk of voter fraud and that state law only allows one such voting center – at the clerk’s main office in the county seat of Crown Point – unless both parties agree to additional locations.
The case has taken on racial overtones, with some Democrats questioning whether Republicans were trying to suppress votes by minorities likely to favor Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. Indiana has not chosen a Democrat for president since 1964, but recent polls have shown Obama about even with or leading Republican John McCain.
Democrats applauded the Supreme Court decision.
“The courts have been very clear in ruling on the side of the voters,” state Democratic Party spokeswoman Lauren Smith said. “It’s all about having an open, honest and fair election. Let’s get this election back on track and focused on the voters.”
With all the new restrictions passed in Indiana the likelihood of voter fraud is slim. This is very good news for the voters of Indiana and will allow the elderly also, a better chance to cast their ballots.
Update: An appeals court later agreed to expedite the case and set oral arguments for five days before the general election.
Indiana Court of Appeals, which set oral arguments for Oct. 30. Attorney James Wieser, who earlier saw the high court’s decision as a victory for his clients including Democrats, the Indiana NAACP and several unions, was surprised by the Court of Appeals action.