Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, dissatisfied with a federal appeals court ruling just four days ago denying his attempt to delete the weekend before Election Day for early voting, is now turning to the US Supreme Court to get his way.
Said Husted in a statement released today:
“This is an unprecedented intrusion by the federal courts into how states run elections and because of its impact on all 50 states as to who and how elections will be run in America we are asking the Supreme Court to step in and allow Ohioans to run Ohio elections. …
“As a swing state, we in Ohio expect to be held to a high standard and level of scrutiny when it comes to elections. However, it’s troubling that the federal courts have failed to recognize that there isn’t another state in the union which can claim Ohio’s broad menu of voting options and opportunity to vote. In Ohio, ALL voters already have at least 230 hours available to vote in person prior to Election Day, ALL registered voters received an application to vote by mail and ALL voters still have the ability to vote during the 13-hour window on Election Day itself.”
Ohio’s early voting window in 2008 included the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day, which many African-American churches took advantage of in their “souls to the polls” campaigns when they bussed black voters to the polls after church service that Sunday. This boosted black voter turnout, something that upset Doug Priesse, a GOP county election board member, who said “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban – read African-American – voter-turnout machine.”
Husted decided in August this year that there will be no early voting on weekends, except for military voters, who could vote on the weekend before. That move is easily viewed as a strike against black church voters, who tend to vote Democratic, while biasing military voters, who often vote Republican. The Obama campaign recognized this and sued to have weekend voting available to all voters. Two federal courts ruled in all voters favor by reinstating the weekend before Election Day for early voting.
Husted has also made the news for fighting to have provisional ballots thrown away if a voter is sent by an elections official to the wrong district to vote – this in a state that leads the nation in trashed provisional ballots. He has denounced voter suppression groups like True the Vote, but his other calls to restrict voting access have landed him in bad company with other state secretaries who’ve been doing the same.