Ohio Secretary of State apologizes for trying to stifle early voting

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, September 7, 2012 16:03 EDT
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An "I Voted" sticker. Photo: Flickr user D.H. Parks, creative commons licensed.
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Ohio Secretary of State John Husted said in court documents filed Friday that he’s really, really sorry for refusing to allow early voting preparations in Ohio, and promises not to do it again unless another court gives him permission.

That was the result of Judge Peter C. Economus’s ruling Friday, which concluded a hearing that saw Sec. Husted rebuked by attorneys for the Obama campaign in a stinging victory over Republican voter suppression efforts.

“Plaintiffs will suffer irreparable injury if in-person early voting is not restored the last three days before Election Day, and there is no definitive evidence before the Court that elections boards will be tremendously burdened,” Judge Economus wrote. “Certainly, the public interest is served by restoring in person early voting to all Ohio voters.” He added that letting all Ohioans have access to early voting meets the standard of keeping voting “uniform, accessible for all, fair, and secure.”

Those last words are what Husted typically says when justifying the state’s odd struggle with early voting, which he’s moved to shut down for three days leading up to the presidential election. Judge Economus ordered Husted to restore early voting in a ruling issued last Friday, but Husted sent a memo to staff saying he would not comply with the order until a pending appeal could be resolved.

Reacting to Husted’s defiance, the judge ordered him to personally appear in court next week to explain himself. That apparently got his attention. Husted’s attorneys insisted on Friday that he immediately rescinded his earlier memo, effectively allowing Ohio elections officials to move forward with early voting preparations.

“The Secretary’s intention was not to create a stay of this Court’s Order,” Husted’s attorneys explain in a court filing obtained by the Election Law Blog. “The Secretary intends to pursue his differences with this Court’s judgment only through the expedited appeal process put in place by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. To the extent that Directive 2012-40 could be read to imply any different compliance disposition, the Secretary apologizes to the federal district court for creating that misimpression”.

Photo: Flickr user D.H. Parks, creative commons licensed.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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