MSNBC host Chuck Todd grilled Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) on Thursday over the state’s recent decision to reduce the amount of time available to voters in the state to cast their votes. Husted, who has been one of the nation’s strongest advocates of measures to suppress voter participation, attempted to deflect the blame to the state legislature — even though it acted on his own recommendations.
On the Daily Rundown, Todd noted that the ACLU, League of Women Voters, and NAACP are suing to block cuts to extended early voting hours on weekdays, the final two days before Election Day, and Sunday voting in non-presidential years (a day typically important to African-American voters because churches use it to turn out votes). When Husted defended the importance of uniform rules for each jurisdiction in Ohio, Todd pressed him as to why those uniform rules couldn’t include more time to vote, rather than less:
TODD: Why did you make the decision to round down, right? You could have rounded up and said, “I want fair and uniform elections and the standard has been Sundays, we’re going to do these two Sundays, expand the hours, and make sure every voting jurisdiction has the same set of hours.” You could have essentially rounded up and you decided to round down. Why did you do that?
HUSTED: That’s not true, Chuck. Actually, the legislature shortened the early voting period. Because of problems in a swing state like Ohio. But that’s not me, Chuck. That’s the legislature. I have clashed with the legislature.
TODD: Do you think they made a mistake? Do you wish they didn’t do that?
HUSTED: What I want is a bipartisan solution. A partisan solution to these issues never is going to satisfy anybody.
Watch the video:
Husted is correct that the Republican legislature — along party lines — passed legislation reducing the ease of early voting. But he neglected to mention that it did so at his own request. Last October, he wrote to state legislative leaders endorsing the Ohio Association of Election Officials’ proposed cuts to early voting options as “the only proposal out there that has bipartisan support.”
Todd also asked why Ohio would make it more difficult to vote in midterm elections, which he noted are “more important” to the “everyday lives” of Ohioans. Husted responded professing agnosticism as to what uniform rules the state used, and then noted that even with the new restrictions, Ohio still has more early voting options than New York, Delaware, and Illinois.
Husted similarly tried to cut Sunday voting hours in the 2012 presidential election. A federal appeals court intervened, concluding that the directive would mean “thousands of voters who would have voted during those three days will not be able to exercise their right to cast a vote in person.”
In his 2010 campaign for Secretary of State, Husted pledged to act “as a fair and timely arbiter as disputes arise – casting aside partisanship and utilizing law and rule to resolve ties and disagreements.”