We last left this saga of Jon Husted, the Secretary of State of Ohio, with him sending a directive to boards of elections in Ohio telling them to stop preparations for early voting on the last week of the election. This relates to a federal court ruling that restored early voting at those times. This looked suspiciously like Husted was acting like an appeals court judge in staying the district court judge’s ruling until after the appeal finished. Husted was then asked to appear personally before the judge, a highly unusual practice, to defend why he took these steps.
“The Secretary’s intention was not to create a stay of this Court’s Order,” the filing read. “The Secretary apologizes to the federal district court for creating that misimpression and has rescinded Directive 2012-40.”
It’s rare that you get to see a public official so humiliated by a judge.
So what happens now is that county boards of elections can move forward with their plans for early voting on the weekend before the elections. If the appeal rules in favor of Husted, those would have to stop. But if the appeal upholds the lower court decision, the preparations now being made can go into effect. This is clearly a much smoother way to plan ahead.
There’s just one other loose end. Husted fired two elections officials in the Toledo area who tried to set their own hours for early voting, defying a previous order. Those Democrats are now suing Husted over that.
The Democratic board of elections members who were removed from their positions by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted in August have sued him in federal court, asking to be reinstated.
The lawsuit comes ahead of a Sept. 11 deadline that Husted set for the Montgomery County Democratic Party to send him the names of two new Democrats to serve on the board. The lawsuit asks for that process to be put on hold until their lawsuit can be resolved.
The dispute developed when the two Democratic members of the four-member board in Montgomery County, Dennis Lieberman and Tom Ritchie Sr., voted to allow for weekend early voting hours in the county. Husted and his office interpreted that move as violating an earlier Husted directive that set early voting hours — and did not include any weekend hours. Lieberman and Ritchie claim that the directive was ambiguous, and that they believe the directive only set a minimum for early voting hours.
Considering how well Husted is doing in front of courts these days, I expect we’ll see Lieberman and Ritchie back at their jobs any time now.