Ohio official called to court in vote suit

Sept. 6, 2012 at 2:02 PM   |   Comments

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- A judge has ordered the Ohio secretary of state to appear at a hearing on a court order to restore early voting on the three days before the November election.

U.S. District Judge Peter Economus late Wednesday ordered Secretary of State John Husted to appear in court Sept. 13, after Husted directed county elections officials to disregard Economus' ruling last week ordering the state to restore early voting.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has filed an appeal of Economus' Aug. 31 order, and Husted said Tuesday elections boards should hold off on complying with the ruling until the appeal is heard.

"The constitutionality of the statute setting in-person absentee voting hours is still subject to court review and it would further confuse voters to set hours now that the court may change later," Husted's directive to elections officials said.

A spokesman for Husted said Wednesday the Republican secretary of state does not think his directive conflicts with Economus' order, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported.

"If (the judge) thinks differently, we will rescind the directive immediately," spokesman Matt McClellan said.

Economus' ruling came in a lawsuit brought by the Obama campaign and Ohio Democrats, challenging Husted's order that all 88 Ohio county elections boards to do away with early voting on weekends -- which Ohio Democrats say has mostly been favored by voters in urban areas of the electoral battleground state.

In Wednesday's filing, the Obama campaign said Husted's Tuesday directive does not "identify the legal basis for this extraordinary action," and argued Economus' order should be respected until an appeals court resolves the issue.

"Plaintiffs will suffer irreparable injury if in-person early voting is not restored the last three days before Election Day," Economus wrote in his ruling last week."

Topics: Mike DeWine
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