Back on Sept. 4 I reported that Ohio SOS Husted issued a directive which seemed to contradict the district court order to restore early voting for all voters in Ohio. After the Obama campaign sought a direct order from the Court requiring Husted to set early voting hours and suggesting that Husted was already disobeying the court’s order, the court ordered Husted to personally appear at the next hearing on this issue.
Today, Husted rescinded the controversial directive. In a new filing in the district court, Husted apologized to the court, explained his directive and his decision to rescind it, and requested a stay of the district court’s order while the matter is on appeal to the Sixth Circuit. (TPM reports that the military groups which intervened in the district court are now appealing as well.)
Should the district court issue the stay? This is a tough call. On the one hand, it seems that Husted should be getting the ball in motion to have the counties set uniform early voting hours for those last three days in Ohio in the event this judge’s decision is upheld on appeal. On the other hand, there is something to the idea that setting hours and then rescinding them could cause confusion—especially if voters rely upon announced early voting that is later then taken away by the Sixth Circuit. (The chances of an eventual reversal from the Sixth Circuit appear fairly good to me—meaning these early voting hours will again disappear.) It seems some kind of order which allows for contingency plans to be put in place makes the most sense.
ORDER – Plaintiffs’ response to the Motion for Stay filed by Defendant Husted due by 4:00 pm on 9/10/12. Signed by Senior Judge Peter C Economus on 9/7/12. (jr1)
Second update: FN 1 of Husted’s stay request: “Due to the high likelihood of voter confusion, and in particular the concern over action that may be taken by various boards of elections, the Secretary may request a stay from the Sixth Circuit while this request is pending.”