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Jon Husted Seeks To Cut Early Voting – Again

News Desk | 10/25/2013, 8:57 a.m.
Husted, at first, vowed to defy the district court’s order on early voting until he was threatened with contempt of ...
Jon Husted

COLUMBUS – In response to Secretary of State Jon Husted indicating he wants to eliminate seven days of early voting, Ohio Democratic Party Deputy Communications Director Brian Hester released the following statement:

“Today’s announcement is a strong reminder why we need Senator Nina Turner to be our Secretary of State. Jon Husted’s latest attempt to cut the number of early voting days is just plain wrong, and it makes it harder for Ohioans to cast a ballot. Federal courts have already ruled that Jon Husted cannot deny early voting the day before the election, so this effort only rehashes the same rejected partisan attempt to suppress voting.”

BACKGROUND

Jon Husted supports cutting early voting days by a week. According to the Columbus Dispatch, Secretary of State Husted recommends that “early voting would instead start 29 days before the election” but it end during the afternoon “the Sunday before the general election.” Currently, Ohio law permits early voting for thirty-five days before the general election. [Source: Columbus Dispatch, (10/24/2013), “Husted promotes limits on early voting.”

Federal courts already ruled that Husted’s attempts to cut general election early voting days are illegal. In 2012, the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Ohio ruled that Ohio could not cut off early voting the Friday before the general election. Republicans attempted to reduce the number of days of early voting, but the Ohio General Assembly reversed them after HB 194 was threatened with a referendum campaign. [Source: Reuters (8/31/12), “Court overturns Ohio early voting restrictions in win for Democrats.”]

The decision to declare Republicans’ attempt to cut off early voting before Election Day was upheld by federal appellate courts. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision declaring the restriction “unconstitutional.” “The court acknowledged an argument that ‘low-income and minority voters are disproportionately affected by elimination’ of the three days of polling for many voters and said ‘there is no definitive evidence... that elections boards would be tremendously burdened’ by returning poll access to the standard before recent changes to the state's laws.”

[Source: CNN (10/5/2012), “Federal court upholds Ohio early voting ruling.”]

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to take Attorney General Mike DeWine’s appeal of the Sixth Circuit ruling. [Source: Huffington Post (10/16/2012), “Supreme Court Approves Ohio Early Voting On Final Weekend Before Election Day.”]

Husted, at first, vowed to defy the district court’s order on early voting until he was threatened with contempt of court. On August 15, 2012, after the district court had already ruled that the attempt to restrict early voting was “unconstitutional,” Husted issued Directive 2012-35, which order County Board of Elections to set hours for early voting that defied the court’s ruling. [Source: Ohio Secretary of State’s website, Directive 2012-35.] Husted was ordered to appear, in person, before the U.S. District Court over this Directive. [Source: Talking Points Memo (9/5/2012), “Judge Orders Jon Husted To Attend Ohio Early Voting Hearing.”]

Only after the order was issued, Jon Husted announced he would comply with the federal court’s rulings on early voting and said the directive was sent out in a misunderstanding. [Source: Defendant Jon Husted’s Response to Plaintiffs’ Motion to Enforce and Motion for Stay, Obama for America, et al. v. Jon Husted (Case No. 2:12-cv-00636), U.S. District Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division (Judge Economus.)

According to official records maintained by Jon Husted’s own office, more than 600,000 Ohioans used Early Voting in 2012. [Source: Ohio Secretary of State’s website, 2012 “Absentee Ballot Report.”]