Ohio's secretary of state backs down, allows early voting
STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 9/13/2012, 3:16 p.m.
John Husted fought the law, and the law won.
Husted, Ohio's Republican secretary of state, gave in to federal orders and switched his decision to stop boards of elections (in mostly Democratic counties) from setting their own early voting hours leading up to Election Day in November.
Initially, Husted and other state Republicans announced that some counties, particularly heavily Democratic ones, would only be open between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., when most people are at work. Meanwhile, other counties that are mostly Republican could expand their voting hours to allow voting on nights and weekends.
Husted's rules would've gone into effect on Oct. 1 in the Democrat-leaning counties of Cleveland, Columbus, Akron and Toledo. The boards of elections in these counties are evenly split between liberals and conservatives and Husted stepped in after both sides were figuratively butting heads over the extension of voting hours.
After a lawsuit by President Barack Obama's campaign, Obama for America v. Husted, where Judge Peter Economus ruled in favor of them, Husted fought back, saying he wouldn't comply with the federal ruling. In a document titled "Directive 2012-40," dated Sept. 4, the secretary of state stood his ground.
"Let me again emphasize, the constitutionality of the statute setting in-person absentee voting hours is still subject to court review and it would further confuse voters to set hours now that the court may change later," he said. Husted contended that the court ruling would prevent county boards of elections from determining the voting hours for the weekend before the election.
More pressure was put on Husted by activists and the feds, though more so the feds. Economus had set a hearing for Sept. 13, and Husted was advised to "personally attend the hearing," according to a release.
Husted eventually changed his tune.
"Directive 2012-40 is hereby rescinded," stated the directive dated Sept. 7. "Later today, this directive will be submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio with a filing in Obama for America v. Husted."
Ohio's legislators first introduced early voting to moderate the state's elections, which have a reputation for being disorganized and filled will stories of lost votes due to clerical errors and confusion over rules.