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Ohio secretary of state Jon Husted (R), looking at the possibility of a lawsuit and some ugly unpleasant publicity, has said that he may set uniform statewide early-voting hours.

As Hamilton County Democratic Party executive director Caleb Faux told us this week in a diary August 3, members of the big urban boards of election in Ohio are splitting down partisan lines on whether to allow in-person early voting outside regular business hours.  (Each county board has two Republicans and two Democrats).

As secretary of state, Husted breaks the tie, and he’s been voting to limit extended voting hours to weekdays/regular hours only — times inconvenient or impossible for working people, especially the working poor who make up a significant portion of these big, heavily Democratic counties with terrible public transportation (thanks to the most laughably paltry state funding in the country, but that’s another story).

Husted said it wouldn’t be fair to have these extended hours when other counties might not have them.

But now, blood-red Republican counties, like Cincinnati collar counties Warren and Butler, are, Caleb told us, voting to extend in-person voting hours to evenings and weekends. They have the advantage that Democrats are generally for expanded voting opportunities, while the Republicans on these boards undoubtedly wanted to provide easier voting for their heavily Republican constituencies.

Husted is already facing a lawsuit from the Obama administration and the Ohio Democratic Party for shutting down the three-day voting window before the election — the most heavily trafficked days — while allowing active duty military personnel to still vote those days. Their grounds? Unequal opportunities to vote. Their solution? (Despite what you may have heard from some jackass conservative) Open the window to everyone.

Chances are pretty good that the unequal extended voting hours would soon become the target of a lawsuit as well. So now Husted is thinking about setting statewide extended voting hours, as he can do as SoS:

The growing outcry from Democrats and black leaders is causing Secretary of State Jon Husted to reconsider whether he should impose a statewide standard on early voting hours.

“Given the controversy that has seemed to envelop this and the lack of facts out there, I will be forced to consider issuing a standard directive for hours of operation,” he told The Dispatch.

Don’t you just love the whiny tone that the controversy “has seemed to envelope this,” and “the lack of facts out there,” that will “force” him to do the right thing? Poor little victim him. How about doing the right thing in the name of fairness and clarity?
Husted, a Republican, said he wanted the county boards — under Ohio law, each made up of two Democrats and two Republicans — to set their own hours because he believes in local control.
Suuuuuuure, he does. That’s why he and his Republican pals in the legislature worked so hard to impose limitations on voting across the state, why they shut down the three-day window before the election.

And of course, we heard from the Ohio Republican Party’s thug-in-chief, chairman Bob Bennett.

This is the man in large part responsible for bringing you a second Bush term. No, there was no war room in Chattanooga with Karl Rove flipping Ohio votes on touchscreens — which were not in use that year in most Ohio counties. Yes, there was Bob Bennett, simultaneously chairing the state Republican Party and the Cuyahoga (Cleveland) board of elections — the biggest block of Democratic votes in the state — overseeing the shorting of machines and three, four and five hour lines.

Bennett, in his typical “blame a Democrat even if it makes no sense” mode, said,

“I want everybody to vote that’s entitled to vote. It’s a failure of the Democrats. They don’t want to make an agreement in the large counties. They’ve dug their heels in.
Okaaaaaay — so … Democrats should have agreed with their Republican counterparts to limit extended voting? What are you saying here, Bob, or do you even stop to think before you toss out your wacky attacks (like calling the League of Women Voters of Ohio a “special interest snake in the grass group” a few days ago for supporting fair, nonpartisan redistricting)?

Timothy Burke, chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, has a more accurate read on the situation:

“Everybody recognizes that those were Democratic voters standing in line. They’re not going to say that, but that’s what’s going on here. All of what’s going on now is an attempt to suppress Democratic voters.”
Pretty much.

If you’re an Ohioan, please join me in urging Jon Husted to do the right thing and set uniform statewide extended voting hours. There’s contact info here:

Office phone numbers:
(614) 466-2655
(877) SOS-Ohio (767-6446)

This has nothing to do with this diary directly but I thought I'd add it for your amusement. Nuns on the Bus in Cleveland Ohio talking about why the Ryan Budget is immoral and unchristian!


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