Husted Appeals Early Voting to the Supreme Court

Oct 09 2012 Published by under Featured News

Ohio’s Secretary of State will Appeal last Friday’s Federal Court ruling that reinstated early voting during the last 3 days before the election, in Ohio.
In a statement, Husted didn’t hide his disapproval of a Federal Court ruling, quashing Husted’s effort to suppress the vote.

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.”
“This ruling not only doesn’t make legal sense, it doesn’t make practical sense. The court is saying that all voters must be treated the same way under Ohio law, but also grants Ohio’s 88 elections boards the authority to establish 88 different sets of rules. That means that one county may close down voting for the final weekend while a neighboring county may remain open. How any court could consider this a remedy to an equal protection problem is stunning.
“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 is troubling that the federal courts have failed to recognize that there is not 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.

Husted’s problem with the ruling has nothing to do with the law and everything to do with political realities and a little arithmetic.
According to a Study of early voting habits in Cuyahoga County, 8% of the electorate voted early and in person. When the numbers are broken down by race, the study found that blacks, representing 29 percent of the vote in Ohio, cast more than 77 percent of the in person early ballots.
Suppressing those votes is more than enough to influence the outcome in the Presidential Election.

The jig was up when Husted sought to decrease early voting hours in Democratic strongholds while maintaining the previous voting hours in districts friendlier to his and Mitt Romney’s politics.

It begs the question, if as Husted claimed in his statement; there are ample voting options in Ohio without early voting as it once was, why was it necessary to maintain those early voting provisions in Republican friendly districts?
After a week of bad press, Husted opted for restricting voting across the state under the pretense that would provide everyone with equal opportunity to vote.
The logic falls flat because reduced voting hours will mean longer lines and more pressure on poll workers. Those pressures will be more profound in larger, read urban districts.
Ironically, one of Husted’s arguments before the Federal Court was that eliminating early voting for the last three days before the election would alleviate pressure on poll workers. Yeah, the court didn’t buy it either.
When defending his directive in court, Husted’s council argued the purpose of it was to extend early voting hours for members of the Military because Military voters face special circumstances.
That’s a reality, which no one would deny. However, by recognizing that the troops face special circumstances, and therefore need special provisions to have equal opportunity to vote, Husted demonstrated a capacity to understand that different segments of the population do have different needs. The Court offered a practical solution: Why not continue with the old system that worked. Voting accessible to everyone, without creating undue pressure on poll workers.
Finally, there is a billboard placed in the heart of the African American Community. “reminding” voters of the legal penalties for voter fraud.
Perhaps it was just a public service announcement conveniently placed “across from a subsidized housing development, a few blocks from three other projects, and down the street from Cuyahoga Community College.”

Frankly, if anyone needed a reminder about the penalties of election fraud, it would be the company that Republicans hired for their voter registration drives. It might be helpful to remind True to Vote as well.

No one disputes that Husted has a legal right to appeal the lower court decision. Again, let’s not pretend that this is about the law, nor is it about states’ rights. The simple truth is Husted only wants voting to be accessible to certain segments of the electorate. Another simple truth lies in the fact that appealing the ruling at this late date will cause confusion for voters, not to mention apply added pressure to poll workers.
Image from OFA

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