Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R)
There was an important court ruling on Friday, in which a federal judge ordered Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) to leave the state's early-voting window open for all of the state's eligible voters, overturning a law approved by Republican policymakers last year making it harder for Ohio voters to cast a ballot.
Today, Husted announced he plans to ignore the court's ruling until after the appeal.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said in a memo Tuesday that he wouldn't restore early voting hours for all voters in Ohio until an appeals court examines a federal judge's ruling that restored those rights. The state of Ohio filed a notice of appeal with the Sixth Circuit court on Tuesday.
"Announcing new hours before the court case reaches final resolution will only serve to confuse voters," Husted said in his memo. "Therefore, there is no valid reason for my office or the county boards of elections to set hours for in-person absentee voting the last three days before the election at this time."
To briefly recap for those who haven't been following this story, Ohio officials, responding to Election Day disasters in 2004, allowed voters an early-voting window of three days, which in turn boosted turnout and alleviated long lines. This year, Republican officials wanted to close the window -- active-duty servicemen and women could vote early, but no one else, not even veterans, could enjoy the same right. A prominent GOP official recently conceded he opposes weekend voting in order to block the "African American ... voter-turnout machine."
President Obama's campaign team filed suit, asking for a level playing field, giving every eligible Ohio voter -- active-duty troops, veterans, and civilians -- equal access. Last week, a federal court agreed.
And today, Ohio's Republican Secretary of State -- ostensibly to avoid "confusion" -- said he intends to keep the early-voting window closed until a federal appeals court considers his appeal.
Why, pray tell, is Husted fighting so aggressively to make access to the election more difficult? One can only speculate -- he's given vague responses about cutting costs, but local election officials have rejected this explanation. It also doesn't explain why Husted, the state's top elections official, originally wanted one easier standard for Republican-leaning counties and a different, more difficult standard for Democratic-leaning counties.