Judge Peter Economus has set a hearing for September 13 to address Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s refusal to comply with the court’s ruling that the state must allow early voting on the three days leading up to the general election. Economus released a terse order Wednesday afternoon: “The Court ORDERS that Defendant Secretary of State Jon Husted personally attend the hearing.” The Obama campaign filed a motion earlier Wednesday asking the court to make Husted give way.
Husted issued a directive Tuesday stating that he would appeal the decision to restore early voting on those three days, claiming that changing the hours now would “only serve to confuse voters.” The directive “strictly prohibits county boards of elections from determining hours for the Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday before the election.”
Lynn Kinkaid, Director of the Butler County Board of Elections, which originally voted to hold weekend hours before Husted’s directive restricted them, told ThinkProgress the board is powerless to act against the Secretary of State’s directive. “I can’t imagine we would disobey a court order…he must have a good reason for it,” Kinkaid said. “He’s the big boss. I’m not going to second-guess my boss.”
Husted fired two Montgomery County election board members after they defied his directive and voted to hold weekend voting hours. Two other Ohio counties have asked Husted to reevaluate the voting restrictions.
Kinkaid recalled huge turnout in Butler County, which voted for McCain in 2008, on the weekend before the election: “There was a lot of people out there. We had them lined up two people, down the hall, out the door, over into the churchyard a block or two away. People waited for three hours.” By Kinkaid’s estimate, poll workers worked 36 hours of overtime that weekend.
There are several pending lawsuits against Husted’s office, including a recent suit by his Democratic predecessor, Jennifer Brunner, over his directive to limit voting hours. On Tuesday, the two fired board of elections members called for Husted’s resignation over a redistricting ballot issue.