Jon Husted, Republican Secretary of State for Ohio
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted
Jon Husted is determined to go down to the wire fighting to make it harder for some Ohioans to vote. The Ohio Secretary of State announced Tuesday that he will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a decision by a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court that would restore county authority to open the polls for early voting in three days before the Nov. 6 election. The GOP-dominated Ohio legislature passed legislation to eliminate those early voting hours because they boosted turnout in areas where Democrats predominate.

Husted has worked assiduously to curtail other early voting hours in Ohio. And he's caught some legal heat for it. Of the appeal, Husted said:

This is an unprecedented intrusion by the federal courts into how states run elections and because of its impact on all 50 states as to who and how elections will be run in America we are asking the Supreme Court to step in and allow Ohioans to run Ohio elections.

This ruling not only doesn’t make legal sense, it doesn’t make practical sense. The court is saying that all voters must be treated the same way under Ohio law, but also grants Ohio’s 88 elections boards the authority to establish 88 different sets of rules. That means that one county may close down voting for the final weekend while a neighboring county may remain open. How any court could consider this a remedy to an equal protection problem is stunning.[...]

While I will be asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Ohio law through the appeals process, the last thing I want to see is a non-uniform system where voters will be treated differently in all 88 counties.

That wasn't his view when he was breaking tie votes on county election boards. Earlier this year, in typically Republican, less densely populated Ohio counties, on those four-member boards—each of which comprises two Democrats and two Republicans—the vote for extending hours the longest possible was usually 4-0. But in some dense, urban, Democratically dominated counties, the vote was 2-2, with Democratic board members voting for more early hours and Republicans against. Husted broke the tie in these splits in favor of the members of his own party.

Consequently, less affluent counties with large African American and other minority populations that vote heavily Democratic were stuck with early-voting hours that made it more difficult for their working-class voters to cast ballots. Wealthier, whiter suburban and rural counties set longer hours even though, by the nature of their jobs and general economic situation, people already find it easier to get to the polls.

Under pressure, Husted eventually set the same hours for all counties. He reduced early voting hours to a lower level.

Ohio Senate Democratic Leader Eric Kearny said Tuesday in a statement:

It is now clear that Secretary of State Jon Husted will stop at nothing to deny Ohioans full and equal access to the polls. By filing an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, Secretary Husted is once again searching for legal justification for Republican election laws that would deny some Ohioans the right to vote on the last three days before the election.

Jeepdad has a discussion on the issue here.

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