A federal judge ordered Secretary of State Jon Husted on Wednesday to personally appear next week at a hearing about his reluctance to restore early voting the weekend before the Nov. 6 election. Judge Peter Economus, whose ruling Husted has resisted, scheduled the hearing on Sept. 13 in the U.S. District Court in Columbus. Economus set the hearing after President Barack Obama’s re-election team filed a motion Wednesday requesting the court to enforce its order to restore in-person early voting during the final three days before the presidential election. In-person early voting over the final weekend before the Nov. 6 election has emerged as a signature issue for Democrats who have repeatedly bashed Republicans’ attempts to limit early voting opportunities. Husted, a Republican, once again took fire from Democrats with a directive he issued on Tuesday.
Husted prohibited all 88 county election boards from setting early voting hours during the last three days before the election, despite Economus’ ruling last Friday.. Husted said it would be premature for elections boards to set hours because he has appealed Economus’ ruling. A Husted spokesman said Wednesday that the secretary of state’s office did not think the directive conflicted with the judge’s order. “If (the judge) thinks differently, we will rescind the directive immediately,” Husted spokesman Matt McClellan said.