Ohio lawmakers on Monday joined Secretary of State Jon Husted in appealing a federal court order that nullified legislation enacted earlier this year and restored cuts to early voting in Ohio. U.S. Southern District Court Judge Peter C. Economus on Thursday ordered Husted to set early voting hours during evenings and on six early voting days cut by Republican-backed legislation earlier this year, and allow county boards of election to set hours in addition to the statewide, uniform hours for the November general election. Under the Sept. 4 court order, early, in-person voting would begin in Ohio on Sept. 30 instead of Oct. 7. Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Monday jointly filed a motion to expedite their appeal in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Economus also instructed legislators to rewrite state law in accordance with his order.
The GOP-controlled General Assembly in February passed Senate Bill 238, which eliminated “Golden Week,” a week-long window when people could both register to vote and cast an in-person absentee ballot. A few days later, Husted released a statewide early, in-person voting schedule that excluded evening hours previously available in some counties and Sundays, eliminating “Souls to the Polls” voting drives by African-American churches.
Attorneys for state lawmakers said in their motion to intervene that the General Assembly should be allowed to “defend this important legislation on appeal and to protect its unique constitutional right and duty to prescribe the ‘times, places, and manner of holding elections.'”