Republican lawmakers on Friday dropped their lawsuit against the state’s elections chief over the handling of provisional ballots after a federal judge threatened them with contempt of court. Secretary of State Jon Husted had defended his decision to require county election boards to follow U.S. District Court Judge Algenon Marbley’s decree instead of state law when counting the ballots. At issue were requirements for providing identification when a voter has to cast a provisional ballot, typically a ballot cast in the wrong precinct. Senate President Tom Niehaus and House Majority Leader Lou Blessing sued Husted, a fellow Republican, last month, arguing he was violating the state constitution by his orders to the county election boards.
But Niehaus and Blessing dropped the lawsuit Friday in a three-page filing in the state Supreme Court after the judge ordered them to follow his ruling the day before, state Senate GOP spokeswoman Angela Meleca said. “We had no choice but to withdraw the suit,” Meleca said. “We still believe in the merits of the case and are considering our legal options.” Blessing and Niehaus “respectfully disagree” and plan an appeal, House GOP spokesman Mike Dittoe said. Husted spokesman Matt McClellan said the secretary of state remains concerned about the conflict between state law and the federal order.