By Marc Kovac
Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted continued to block county boards from setting hours for early in-person voting in the final days before the November general election, days after a federal judge ordered him to instruct elections officials to do so.
In a directive Tuesday, the state’s chief elections officer wrote “there is no valid reason” to open early voting on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Nov. 6 while legal proceedings over the issue continue.
“Let me again emphasize, the constitutionality of the statute setting in-person absentee voting hours is still subject to court review, and it would further confuse voters to set hours now that the court may change later,” Husted wrote. “As such, this directive strictly prohibits county boards of elections from determining hours for the Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday before the election.”
Husted did indicate, however, that he would reverse course if an appellate court upholds last week’s decision.
“I am confident there will be sufficient time after the conclusion of the appeal process to set uniform hours across the state,” he wrote.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus ordered Husted to restore early in-person voting on the three days before Election Day, blocking a new state law that ended early voting Friday and calling into question a directive by the secretary of state prohibiting early voting on weekends.
The decision was a victory for President Barack Obama’s election campaign, which sued after lawmakers set different deadlines for early voting for men and women serving in the military.
Attorney General Mike DeWine is appealing the decision, arguing that it is constitutional to provide special ballot access to men and women serving in the military.