Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) said on Wednesday morning that he would unilaterally step in to address what he termed the “political hysteria” over disparities between voting hours across counties. But, while he said he will issue uniform rules for voting hours “long before October 2,” to treat “the largest counties and the smallest counties with equal consideration,” he took no responsibility for his own role in creating the issue.
Last week, ThinkProgress reported that voters in Democrat-leaning urban centers including Cleveland, Columbus, Akron and Toledo will now only be allowed to vote between 8 am and 5 pm on weekdays, when the majority of people are at work. When the counties’ boards of elections, which are split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, deadlocked over a Democratic effort to expand hours, Husted stepped in to deny expanded hours in these counties. At the same time, Republican-heavy counties actually expanded early voting hours on nights and weekends, when most people have time to go to the polls.
In a CNN interview, Husted said that he will “quell” the partisan controversy — which he himself helped create — by establishing uniform hours for all counties.
HUSTED: The issue at hand — it has been in law and in tradition in Ohio that local Boards of Elections have established their own voting hours. This is how it was in the last election. However, it has erupted into a little bit of a partisan controversy and I hope to quell that controversy by moving to establish uniform hours in every county across the state so we can get back to focusing on the candidates. … I am doing the research. I spent last evening talking to Democrat [sic] and Republican local elections officials to try to develop some consensus about establishing uniform hours statewide. This will be a precedent-setting move by myself and the State of Ohio to do this because it’s not been the tradition or it’s not been the standard that has been set previously. But we are trying to make sure that everybody feels like they are being treated fairly in every county. I have been a champion of uniformity. We should have uniform rules.
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While it represents progress that Husted now wants to make sure Republican-leaning counties do not get more hours to vote than their Democratic-leaning counterparts, he could have avoided the entire “partisan controversy” by allowing everyone expanded hours in the first place.