The Supreme Court delivered a victory to President Obama's campaign Tuesday, saying it would not stay a lower court's ruling that all voters -- not just those in the military -- be allowed to vote in the three days before the Nov. 6 election. The court turned down Ohio's petition without comment.
The Obama campaign had sued the state over its decision to end early voting on the Friday before the election for all but members of the military. The campaign said the decision would disproportionately affect poor, elderly and low-income voters, who are most likely to take advantage of early voting, for no good reason.
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit agreed. It said that if Ohio was going to open the polls for military voters during the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before the election, it must allow all voters to participate.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, said the state provided an unprecedented amount of early voting -- the polls opened Oct. 2 -- and that elections officials needed the three days to prepare for Election Day. He decided not to ask the full 6th Circuit to review the panel's decision, and went straight to the Supreme Court.
The panel's ruling said that a decision on whether to open polls during those three days could be made by local officials. Husted told local officials that they must offer voting from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Monday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
There is another outstanding voting issue in Ohio. A separate 6th Circuit panel overturned the state's law that required throwing out provisional ballots that had been incorrectly cast because of a poll worker's mistake. The state has not yet said whether it will try to overturn that ruling.
Early voting has edged past the 1 million mark, and although the numbers are still too few to draw broad conclusions, they show a Democratic advantage.
In Iowa, the state with the largest share of the electorate voting early, Democrats have a nearly 2-1 edge (52 percent to 28 percent) among the 220,000 early votes cast. The margin is narrower when it comes to absentee ballot requests (48 to 30) and Republicans have gained ground there in recent weeks.
In Florida, Republicans have a four-point margin in party registration of early voters (44 to 40), down over their 12-point edge in 2008.
Ohio is harder to read because partisan registration is not reported.
Political science professor Michael McDonald, who heads the United States Elections Project at George Mason University in Virginia, said that overall early voting is likely to exceed 2008 levels, when about 30 percent of the electorate cast ballots before Election Day.
China is poised to lose its place as the United States' biggest creditor for the first time since the height of the financial crisis. Chinese holdings of Treasuries rose 0.1 percent this year through August to $1.15 trillion, Treasury Department data said Tuesday. Japan, a stronger U.S. ally, raised its stake by 6 percent to $1.12 trillion, on pace to top the list of foreign creditors by January.
While Mitt Romney promises to label China a currency manipulator if he wins the election and says President Obama has been too lenient in trade disputes, foreign demand is a reason Treasury yields remain close to record lows, reducing the cost of credit for the government, companies and individuals.