The Supreme Court on Monday blocked Ohio from beginning early voting this week, less than 24 hours before state residents were slated to head to the polls. 

The high court, in a 5-4 decision, stayed a lower court order that invalidated a state law that cut back early and evening voting. 

A lower court had ordered early voting to begin Tuesday. But with the decision put on hold, early voting is likely to begin a week later, on Oct. 7. 


Justice Elena Kagan, who handles cases from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, was referred the request for a stay last week after the appeals court upheld the lower court decision. The lower court had found that the Ohio law cutting back voting hours unconstitutional and said it violated the Voting Rights Act. 

Kagan referred the case to the entire court. The four liberal justices — Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Kagen — said they would have denied the application for a stay.

The lower courts had ruled Ohio must revert back to 35 days — rather than 28 days — of early in-person voting. That included a so-called first golden week when citizens are able to register and vote on the same day.

The ruling would have also required early voting polling places to hold evening hours and allowed early voting the Sunday before the election — a typically high turnout day for African-Americans who vote after church in an initiative dubbed "souls to the polls."

However, those rulings are now put on hold until the Supreme Court decides whether to take up the full appeal.