His hand forced by a judge, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has announced hours for early voting. But the war over access to the ballot in the nation’s most pivotal swing state isn’t over by a long shot. In a directive issued Tuesday afternoon, Husted, a Republican, set early voting hours for the four weeks before Election Day that are roughly comparable to the hours offered in 2012. Husted acted after a federal judge, in a ruling last week, required him to restore early voting on the last three days before the election. Husted had previously tried to cut early voting on those days. The judge’s ruling ensured that the “Souls to the Polls” drives that many black churches have conducted in recent years—in which people vote en masse after services—can continue.
Still, Ohioans will have less access to the polls in November—when both Gov. John Kasich, a potential 2016 presidential contender, and Husted himself will be on the ballot—than last time around. That’s because the state’s Republican-controlled legislature in February cut the first week of early voting. That was the so-called “Golden Week,” when people could register and vote at the same time.
Those cuts are being challenged by the ACLU, which alleges in a lawsuit that they violate the Voting Rights Act by disproportionately targeting blacks and Hispanics.