Secretary of State Jon Husted on Friday rightly applauded fellow Republican Gov. John Kasich’s wise veto of Senate Bill 296 – which had the potential to become a punitive poll tax on those Ohioans who sought to preserve their constitutional voting rights by appealing to a judge to keep polls open late. Ohio Gov. John Kasich vetoed a controversial elections bill that would have required voters seeking a county court order keeping the polls open to post bond. The bill would have required a potentially crushing bond to be posted by anyone asking a judge to keep polls open after hours for any reason. One example: problems with electronic poll books that plagued Hamilton County voters last November, prompting a (Republican) Common Pleas judge to order polls kept open until 9 p.m. Our editorial board condemned SB 296, sponsored by state Sen. William Seitz, a Republican from Hamilton County, and called for such a veto. And Kasich agreed, saying Friday in his veto statement that “prohibiting state court judges from exercising their discretion to waive [a bond] in only these types of cases is inequitable” and might deter citizens from seeking a court ruling to allow after-hours voting even “when there may be a valid reason for doing so.” Kasich’s right – so right, that it’s unlikely GOP lawmakers will vote to overturn his veto, even though they have the votes to do so.
Kasich must veto a disgraceful anti-voter measure, a virtual poll tax – Senate Bill 296. The bill could make it financially disastrous for an Ohioan to ask a judge to keep polls open after their scheduled 7:30 p.m. closing time, writes the editorial board.
Husted, however, vowed in his Friday statement to keep working with lawmakers to craft a bill “to address last-minute changes to our voting laws by state judges.”
In other words, Husted purports to hope to find a different way to make it harder for judges to protect citizens’ voting rights in Ohio. (Admittedly, Kasich said something similar but less baldly in the context of his SB 296 veto, when he approved of the legislature’s efforts to “prevent frivolous injunction requests from being granted.”)