When faced with a court ruling calling to restore early voting for the November elections, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted responded saying you can’t make me. And to that, the Obama campaign is responding with, "yes, we can."
So is Judge Peter Economus, who last Friday ruled to restore Ohio’s early voting days for the weekend before the November 6 election, and yesterday ordered Husted to appear before the court -- in person -- to explain himself in why he plans to delay the federal court order.
After not getting the answer he was looking for in the court’s ruling last week, Husted has since lobbed threats to defy the court’s decision, saying there was “no valid reason” for his office to comply. Husted issued a directive to all 88 county election boards that “strictly prohibits” acknowledging the early voting hours as the last three days before the election. “Announcing new hours before the court case reaches final resolution will only serve to confuse voters and conflict with the standard of uniformity,” Husted directed officials.
According to Husted, rather than notify voters that a U.S. federal judge gave a nod of approval to Ohio’s early voting hours, the state was to hold out on the chance Economus’ ruling could be overturned.
The Obama For America team fired back to Husted’s directive as an overstep of authority, and filed a motion calling on the courts to enforce the ruling:
"Having sought no stay, either in this Court or the Court of Appeals, the State appears to believe it can issue one on its own authority," the motion reads. "Nowhere in this Directive does the Secretary identify the legal basis for this extraordinary action."
As previously reported, almost 100,000 Ohio voters showed up during the last three days of voting in 2008. And Democrats suspect that many African-Americans in particular utilized the extended hours to vote on the Sunday before the election -- just after attending church.
Meanwhile, there was big early-voting news in Florida today:
The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday endorsed eight 12-hour days of early voting in five key Florida counties, including Hillsborough and Monroe, all but ending a long-running legal battle that threatened to disrupt the November election.
Read more about this in the Tampa Bay Times, then see below the "MHP" conversation about voting rights from last weekend. Watch for new editions of This Week in Voter Suppression this weekend on "MHP," and into the future.