Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a young and rising star in the Ohio Republican Party, has become one of the most embattled election officials in the country, thanks to a spate of recent court decisions his critics have used to fuel their charges of voter suppression. Judges in three courts have ruled against Husted and forced the secretary to set early voting hours on the weekend before Election Day, revisit how provisional ballots are handled and rewrite misleading ballot language for a redistricting proposal. Those rulings came on the heels of a barrage of state and national criticism Husted already faced over Ohio’s uneven rules for early voting. He responded last month by setting uniform hours throughout the state, but invited more criticism by excluding weekend voting.
If this were boxing, Husted might need a standing eight count — a break in the action to give the reeling combatant time to compose himself before jumping back into the fray. But while he’s been knocked down, Husted says he has not been knocked out and prefers to be judged later by how well the election is run on Nov. 6.
Still, the secretary told The Plain Dealer that being targeted by Democrats, voters groups and judges has been discouraging. He insists Ohio has among the most flexible voting rules in the country, but that’s being overshadowed by charges that Husted is using his office to disenfranchise Democratic voters and hurt the re-election hopes of President Barack Obama.