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Jon Husted, Republican Secretary of State for Ohio
Secretary of State Jon Husted remains stubbornly
determined to suppress the vote in Ohio.
You gotta love Jon Husted. If you're a Republican eager to suppress Democratic votes, that is. The Ohio Secretary of States elected in 2010 has been doing his best to ensure his party has a better time at the polls than it did in 2008 when Barack Obama won Ohio and two GOP congressmen lost their seats. His latest action on voter suppression is to ignore a court ruling requiring the state to restore early voting on the three days before the Nov. 6 election.

At least some of the 2008 defeats for Republicans in Ohio have been chalked up to the increased turnout from adding extra early voting hours, especially in dense urban areas with a large proportion of minority voters who cast ballots heavily for Democrats. This time around, Husted and the state legislature were determined to get those hours back to where they were in 2004. In that election long queues at the polling stations persuaded tens of thousands of citizens to step out of line and go home without voting.

One source of that larger turnout was the weekend and Monday right before the election. Instead of viewing a larger response at the polls as a good thing for democracy, the GOP-dominated legislature cut those three days of early voting out altogether. The Obama administration sued. And last week, a federal judge restored  those three days of early voting. In a Tuesday memorandum, however, Husted informed all county election boards that he will ignore the judge's order until an appeals court rules on the restoration:

Announcing new hours before the court case reaches final resolution will only serve to confuse voters and conflict with the standard of uniformity sought in Directive 2012-35. 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.
Husted could have chosen to forget about appealing last week's decision and get on with the business of supervising an election in which the state of Ohio makes every effort to ensure every citizen who wants to vote has ample opportunity to do so. Regardless of their party affiliation or predilection.

But that would require a different mind-set. There is an obviously partisan nature to the decision to reduce early voting hours in general and particularly those on the weekend right before the election when large numbers of African American voters cast mostly Democratic votes. Husted's previous efforts to support early voting in Republican counties and not in Democratic counties was proof enough of that partisanship before this latest move.

A solid get-out-the-vote effort in Ohio can overcome some of the disadvantages caused by the loss of early-voting hours on week-nights and weekends whether the appeals court rules in favor of Husted or the Obama administration. The GOTV team should remind all the citizens contacted which public officials it was who sought to make it harder for them to exercise their constitutional rights.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 01:56 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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