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· October 9, 2012

IO Release: Husted Refuses to Take “No” for an Answer

News Release For Immediate Release:  October 9, 2012 Contact:  Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

HUSTED REFUSES TO TAKE “NO” FOR AN ANSWER Chief Elections Officer Asks Supreme Court To Help Him Suppress African-American Votes

Columbus — Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, today accused Secretary of State Jon Husted of betraying the core mission of his office by appealing a ruling by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court that prohibits him from barring early voting on the last weekend before the election. Last Thursday, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a previous ruling by a federal district court judge which overturned Husted’s order barring voting on the three days prior to Election Day.  In 2008, some 93,000 Ohioans — a significant portion of whom were African-American — voted on the final weekend. In the ruling Husted is appealing, the 6th Circuit Court said the state could not “justify reducing the opportunity to vote by a considerable segment of the voting population”, especially “when there is no evidence that local boards of elections will be unable to cope with more early voters.” Husted’s appeal comes on the heels of a Cleveland Plain Dealer story which reports that an analysis of 2008 voting patterns in Cuyahoga county finds that “restrictions on early in-person voting would discriminate against black voters.”  Specifically, the analysis found that African-American voters cast more than 77% of all early in-person ballots. Said IO Communications Director Dale Butland: “The job of the Secretary of State is to make voting easier, not harder.  And not one — but two — federal courts have now told him he has no justification for shutting down voting on the final  week-end before the election. Mr. Husted knows full well that African-American voters, because of their long and bitter struggle in the voting rights arena, prefer to vote in person, rather than by mail. Mr. Husted also knows that ‘souls-to-the-polls’ voting on the final weekend — after church and in the company of their fellow congregants — is a long and treasured practice in the black community. But Jon Husted knows a few other things as well. He knows that Ohio is a key battleground state, and that both the presidential and U.S. Senate races here are likely to be extremely close. He knows that nearly 100,000 Ohio voters, a majority of whom are black, would likely vote on the final week-end if the polls were open. And he knows most African-Americans will not vote for his party’s candidates. So Ohioans won’t be fooled by Sec. Husted’s lame claim that his appeal to the Supreme Court is motivated by his concern over “different counties establishing different sets of rules.” If  uniformity were his main concern, Mr. Husted could simply order all Ohio counties to keep the polls open on the final weekend. After all, he had no trouble ordering all Ohio counties to keep them closed — until two federal courts told him he couldn’t. The truth is that Secretary of State Husted has decided to play politics. The truth is that Mr. Husted has decided to be a Republican first, and Ohio’s Secretary of State second. The truth is that Mr. Husted, like the Chairman of the Franklin county Republican party, sees no reason to “accommodate the urban — read African-American — turn-out machine.” In short, Secretary of State Husted is playing the race card. And he should be ashamed of himself.”


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