Secretary of State Jon Husted had a relaxed look on his face, staring at the journalists and cameras in a press conference video, posted on Youtube. He looked ready to take on challenging questions and comments about his U.S. Supreme Court case for eliminating “Golden Week.”
Golden Week was an early voting period when Ohioans could register and cast ballots on the same day. Husted was sued by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, better known as the NAACP, and the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, because they said cutting this early voting period would suppress the voting rights of African-Americans and other minorities in Ohio.
Husted won, however, when the case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Voting in Ohio is a huge deal. Ohio is one of the nation’s most popular swing states, making it a battleground state where politics can get ugly during elections. There are roughly equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats in the Buckeye State, so statewide elections tend to be close and bipartisan agreement can sometimes be extremely hard to achieve.
As the secretary of state, Husted has an important job: to make sure elections in Ohio are run fairly and efficiently. “Making it easy to vote and hard to cheat” is a motto he proudly flaunts.
But his Democratic opponents say that his ambitions to stop voter fraud are more about suppressing the voting rights of minorities, who tend to vote predominantly Democratic.
At John Carroll University, Political Science Professor Sara Schiavoni said that Husted’s directive is being driven by politics and not the good of the people.
“His excuse for cutting early voting because of voter fraud — that there is not tangible evidence of — is disingenuous.”
The majority of people that used to vote during Golden Week were members of minority groups or senior citizens, Schiavoni explained. People from those demographics usually vote for the Democrats. Cutting early voting will discourage those people from voting, and that will lower the Democratic voter turnout in Ohio.
“We know that early voting increases voter turnout. We do not know that cutting early voting will cut down on voter fraud,” Schiavoni said. “Why restrict voting, rather than making it more open for everyone?”
This question that Schiavoni proposed is a question that many journalists and reporters have asked Husted. It has yet to be answered fully.
Husted’s recent voter suppression lawsuit has dropped his popularity with some of his constituents in Ohio but his head remains high. “We always get accused of voter fraud, voter suppression,” he said in an interview on “Fox & Friends” with Steve Doocy. But in that interview, he defended his decision to reduce early voting.
Comfortably sitting on Doocy’s stage, Husted said, “I asked all 88 county boards of elections in the state to do a review, top to bottom, of all substantiated claims of fraud and suppression, and what we came up with were around 270 cases of alleged fraud or irregularity. Zero cases of suppression.”
Although these were alleged cases of fraud, only one conviction was made. The others were thrown out.
Husted has not let the negative press he got about the lawsuit effect the energy of his campaign. He takes much pride in the accomplishments he has achieved while being the incumbent for Ohio’s Secretary of State.
He has worked to improve voting by promoting the use of technology for voting and sending absentee ballots to all voters, in an effort to prevent long voter lines at the polls.
In 2013, Husted was recognized in a Washington Post blog, “The Fix,” as one of the “Top 10 Rising Stars” in the GOP.