There is nothing in Secretary of State Jon Husted’s clean-cut boyish appearance, demeanor and voice to suggest that he is a threat to anybody. Not only is he a Republican poster politician from southwestern Ohio, he also was a small-college all-American football player, which is packed with style points.
So when he stands before a microphone to assure everyone that he has made it easier to vote and harder to cheat, you want to give him the good-guy benefit of the doubt. Even when you know that in neither case is it true..
That was his essential message to an Akron luncheon audience of about 60, anchored by a couple of tables bearing dutiful members of the Summit County Republican Party who sat transfixed by his report of good work in behalf of all Ohioans. The program was sponsored by the Akron Press Club and Bliss Institute.
Husted claimed so much progress in fixing and cleaning up and Ohio’s irregular voting system that it was easy to wonder whether he had hired an army of Molly Maids to mop up the debris during his watch. It’s an election year and Husted faces a Democratic challenger, State Sen. Nina Turner of Cleveland, who has been unforgiving in her attacks on his central role in early voting restrictions that have their greatest downside in Democrat-rich urban areas. So, yes, you can expect him to be quite active in promoting his own morphing of the system.
Easier to vote, did he say? With fewer opportunities to vote because of restrictions, including the ending of same-day registration and voting, the so-called “Golden Week”?
According to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU, NAACP and League of Women Voters, “more than 157,000 Ohioans voted on days that have now been cut…disproportionately low-income and African Americans.”
Harder to cheat, did he say? That was the governing term during the 2012 presidential election when Republican do-gooders decided that the very mention or fraud would jolt Ohio voters to a call for action. But now that study after study has shown that fraud in Ohio was nothing more than a Scrabble word, you don’t hear much about it anymore, except in empty slogans. Even Husted concedes that voter fraud is rare. So what’s the fuss about?
Oh, he did tell his audience that his election “reforms” were supported by the non-partisan Ohio Association of Election Officials. That front office is composed of three Republicans and two Democrats; hence, non-partisan. More to the point, all are from rural counties that are a breed apart from the voter mass of urban areas,
Husted has been busy in several areas as the state’s top election official. But on the other hand, he walked away from opposing a legislative plan that would raise barriers to discourage voting by college students living on campus. The issue, his office said, “is not a priority for Secretary Husted.”
Plunderbund reported in 2012 that Husted hired an out-of-state attorney with a history of voter suppression work to represent his office against a Federal judge’s ruling that would sustain early voting three before an election.
Husted’s talk this week in Akron lasted less than an hour. The paper trail of his office goes back several years.