By Marc Kovac
A group pushing to change the way the state draws its congressional and legislative districts gave Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted a report card full of failing grades for decisions he’s made in the weeks before the November general election.
Voters First, the group behind State Issue 2, offered its performance review to draw attention to a series of lawsuits filed against Husted and his decision to close early polls on weekends.
“Understand one thing,” Deidra Reese, coordinator of the Ohio United Coalition, a group that works to register and assist minority voters, said during a press conference near the Statehouse on Monday. “Jon Husted’s job is to run smooth elections and fair elections. ... Secretary Husted has failed us. He’s failed the voters.”
In particular, the group criticized Husted for dismissing Democratic members of a Dayton-area elections board, appealing a decision related to which provisional ballots should be counted and prohibiting weekend voting. Lawsuits and appeals on those issues have been decided or are pending in state and federal courts.
Monday’s press conference came two days after early voting opened for overseas and military voters and about a week before in-person polling begins for other eligible voters.
Husted’s office said more than 9,700 military and overseas ballots were sent out Saturday, and 713,000-plus other absentee ballots have already been requested.
Spokesman Matt McClellan countered the Voters First comments, saying the state has received “high marks” from nonpartisan groups for its elections efforts.
“With so many things about the actual election going smoothly, apparently they decided it was time to try and manufacture a problem,” he said in a released statement.