Ohio’s Husted prepared to honor court ruling

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R)
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R)
Associated Press

We’ve been keeping a close eye on the voting-rights controversy in Ohio, where Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted is so opposed to early-voting opportunities, he stated his intention this week to ignore a federal court ruling pending an appeal.

Today, Husted came to his senses. Scott Keyes has the story.

After previously trying to restrict early voting, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) today reversed course on his decision to block county boards of elections from setting their own early voting hours in the days leading up to the November election. […]

Facing a direct court order, Husted has chosen instead to back down. This afternoon, Husted’s office released Directive 2012-42 with a brief message: “Directive 2012-40 is hereby rescinded.” As a result, county boards of elections will now be allowed to set their own hours, pending Husted’s appeal of the Obama for America v. Husted decision.

At this point, it would seem Husted has a responsibility to start working with counties on uniform early-voting schedules, but as Rick Hasen noted, the Ohio Secretary of State, after apologizing to the court for ignoring its ruling, requested a stay.

In other words, Husted wants the federal district court to agree that its ruling can be put on hold pending an appeals process, though it’s unclear if Judge Peter Economus will be inclined to grant this request. (Economus is the one who summoned Husted this week, demanding an explanation.)

I’ll update this post with additional information as it becomes available, but at this point there appear to be some ambiguities. Husted was going to block county elections boards from setting early-voting hours, then a court told him he couldn’t, and as of this afternoon, he’s prepared to honor that ruling. But Husted is also appealing the decision, feels confident of his chances at the 6th Circuit, and hopes the district court judge stays the ruling. If Ohio county elections boards met today to plan for early-voting schedules, I’m not altogether sure how they’re supposed to proceed.

That said, the fact that Husted apologized for ignoring a court ruling appears to be a good sign (and will keep him from being held in contempt of court).