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.
Last month, Husted and Ohio Republicans led an effort to limit early voting hours in Democratic counties, including those with major cities like Columbus and Cleveland, while expanding early voting in Republican counties. After the ensuing uproar, Husted moved to restrict voting hours across the state, only to have his cuts to early voting restored by a federal court.
For now, Ohio counties can set their own early voting hours. That’s especially helpful for those counties with large minority communities, like Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County; in 2008, over 93,000 Ohioans voted in the last three days before election day, a significant number of them African-American. Those final three days have been the subject of a drawn out battle between Secretary of State Husted, local elections officials, and voting rights advocates.
However, don’t pop the champagne yet. Husted appealed the district court decision that allowed those final three days of voting to the 6th Circuit Court. If that court rules in his favor, those final three days of early voting are – and we’re using a complex legal term – toast.
We’ll be watching this closely. We are hoping ultimately that justice - and access to the polls comparable to 2008 and 2010 – will prevail.