Ohio secretary of state’s early-voting flip flop

Updated
File Photo: Republican candidate for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted speaks during a rally at the Muskingum County Fairgrounds Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010, in...
File Photo: Republican candidate for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted speaks during a rally at the Muskingum County Fairgrounds Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010, in...
Jay LaPrete/AP Images, File

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted was one of the biggest opponents of early voting in the months leading up to the 2012. He fought hard to have early voting limited, especially the three-day period leading up to election day–a time when Democratic-leaning voters are more likely to head to the polls.

Not long after his election, Husted began talking about the importance of election uniformity, a mantra he repeated later as he fought to stop early voting on the Friday before election day. If his management of the coming primary election is any indication, Husted no longer appears to be concerned about election uniformity.

There was little uniformity across Ohio in early voting access on the three-days leading up to the May 7 primary election. As State Rep. Kathleen Clyde pointed out in a letter to Husted this past week, at least five counties had no plans to have any early voting on Monday. Clyde argued Husted’s failure to direct those counties to be open Saturday, Sunday, and Monday was in violation of the 6th Circuit Appeals Court decision that mandated early voting be restored on the three-day period leading up to Election Day. As of Monday afternoon, she had not heard back from Husted.

Ultimately Montgomery County decided offer voting on the Monday before the election, but another four counties did not, and Husted made no apparent efforts to direct those counties otherwise.

Husted’s office responded to inquiries from PoliticsNation by pointing out that the 6th Circuit Court decision referred specifically to the 2012 general election, and not subsequent elections, but did not directly address whether or not Husted is concerned about the apparently lack of uniformity in primary early voting.

Diana Kasdan, attorney for NYU’s Brennan Center, agreed with that assessment, noting that the lack of uniformity is not a violation of that decision. But she also said, ”There are aspects of the lower court decision, and Husted’s own directives, that indicate those three days should be uniformly available.”

With election uniformity no longer a top priority, it’s hard not to be reminded of how another Ohio Republican responded when asked about attempts to limit early voting last year. Doug Preisse, chairman of the Republican Party in Franklin County (which happens to be one of the four counties that did not offer early voting on Monday), told the Columbus Dispatch, “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban—read African-American—voter-turnout machine. Let’s be fair and reasonable.”

As the Ohio blog Plunderbund pointed out, “It appears Husted is only interested in ‘uniformity’ when doing so might help give Republicans an edge in a big presidential election year.”

Ohio secretary of state's early-voting flip flop

Updated