By Marc Kovac
A federal judge has canceled a Thursday hearing after Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted rescinded an order blocking county elections boards from scheduling early voting on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day.
In a court filing Monday, U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus, formerly of Youngstown, said the hearing is now “moot.”
“This court is satisfied that Mr. Husted understands the importance of his role as an elected official of the state of Ohio to set an example to all citizens of Ohio that the order of a federal court — or any court — must be followed, even if one personally disagrees with the decision,” the judge wrote.
The court did not indicate a next move in Husted’s request for a stay while he appeals the judge’s earlier decision opening early, in-person voting on the final three days before Nov. 6.
Judge Economus had summoned Husted to a Thursday hearing to explain why he issued a directive prohibiting early voting on three days that the judge had ruled should be open after President Barack Obama’s election campaign sued.
A change in state law closed early, in-person polls on the Friday before Election Day, though men and women serving in the U.S. military were provided special accommodation to cast ballots thereafter.
The judge sided with the Obama campaign, and ordered Husted to restore the three days of early voting. But Husted last week issued another directive to county elections boards prohibiting them from opening on the days in question before a decision on the appeal is finalized.
Husted wrote that “there is no valid reason” to open early voting on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday while legal proceedings over the issue continue, though he did indicate there was ample time to reverse course if an appellate court upholds Judge Economus’ decision.
He later rescinded the order, apologized to the court and asked for a stay on the decision, pending an appeal.