Apparently, swinging and missing on three separate occasions is not enough to get either Ohio's Republican Governor John Kasich or its Republican Secretary of State John Husted to walk away from the plate.
After U.S. District Court Judge Peter Economus issued an August 2012 preliminary injunction that forced the Buckeye State to restore early voting for the three days preceding the November 2012 Presidential Election, Husted found it necessary to apologize to the court for what appeared to be a contemptuous directive to the state's 88 county Boards of Election that they not establish hours for voting on those days, pending the state's appeal of the preliminary injunction. Strike one!
In early October 2012, a unanimous three judge panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeal ruled against Husted, expressly sustaining every aspect of Judge Economus' August 2012 decision. Strike two!
That same month, the U.S. Supreme Court summarily rejected Husted's request for an emergency stay. Strike three!
Undaunted, in Feb. 2014 Gov. Kasich signed into law a new elections bill that failed to correct the previous disparate deadlines for in-person voting, allowing military voters to vote on the last days before the election, but nobody else. Husted then issued a directive that provided for early voting between 8:00 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, but failed to provide for any voting hours on either Sunday, Nov. 2 or Monday, Nov. 3 --- despite the still-existing law allowing military members to cast their vote those days.
As it happens, African-American churches have traditionally used early voting on the Sunday before elections as "Souls to the Polls" day to help get out the vote. In turn, Republicans in Ohio have been working hard to end early voting on the Sunday before election day.
In his original 2012 ruling, Judge Economus held that all Ohio voters had a "constitutionally protected right to participate in the 2012 election --- and all elections --- on an equal basis." That is why he declared the effort to limit early voting to only active duty military members on the weekend before the election to be an unconstitutional violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
This year's latest gambit led to the issuance last week of a Permanent Injunction [PDF] on the Republican scheme, pursuant to which Judge Economus has ordered the recalcitrant Ohio Secretary of State [emphasis added] "to set uniform and suitable in-person early voting hours for all eligible voters for the three days preceding all future elections." Strike four?
Amusingly, rather than attempting to violate the court order this time around, SoS Husted is pretending that all of this is simply what he wanted all along, declaring in a statement (via the "Election Law Blog"), issued after losing again in court last week: "I am pleased that the federal court has affirmed what I have long advocated --- that all voters, no matter where they live, should have the same opportunity to vote. Thankfully, uniformity and equality won the day."
Also, up is down, black is white, and John Husted is a great champion of voting rights.
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