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Jon Husted, Republican Secretary of State for Ohio
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted ordered
 to explain himself in federal court.
As you may have read here previously, Ohio's Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted has been doing everything he can to curtail Democratic voter turnout for the November election. But this time he may have gone too far. After a federal district judge ruled that Ohio must not get rid of three days of early voting right before Nov. 6, Husted and the state attorney general said they would appeal the decision. But Husted took matters one step further and issued a directive telling county election boards not to arrange early-voting hours on those three days until after the appeal court's decision. In other words, he flipped off district court Judge Peter C. Economus.

The judge grabbed that upraised finger and gave it a twist Wednesday when he scheduled a hearing that Husted must personally attend on Sept. 13. Economus took the action after the Obama administration requested that the ruling be enforced. The administration brought the original case against the GOP-dominated legislature's removal of the three early-voting days.

Lynn Kinkaid, Director of the Butler County Board of Elections, which originally voted to hold weekend hours before Husted’s directive restricted them, told ThinkProgress the board is powerless to act against the Secretary of State’s directive. “I can’t imagine we would disobey a court order […] he must have a good reason for it,” Kinkaid said. “He’s the big boss. I’m not going to second-guess my boss.” [...]

Kinkaid recalled huge turnout in Butler County, which voted for McCain in 2008, on the weekend before the election: “There was a lot of people out there. We had them lined up two people, down the hall, out the door, over into the churchyard a block or two away. People waited for three hours.” By Kinkaid’s estimate, poll workers worked 36 hours of overtime that weekend.

In 2004, there were also long lines. But one report put the number of Ohio citizens who left the long queues and went home without voting that year at 174,000. Widespread complaints about that situation is what caused the state to expand early-voting hours in 2008, including those provided three days right before the election. The victory of Obama in Ohio as well as the capture of one Republican and two open congressional seats by Democrats spurred the legislature to cut the early-voting hours for this year.

•••

Please join us in telling Ohio Republicans to stop restricting access to early voting.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 09:32 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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