Seriously, Jon Husted? You Think Our Tax Dollars Are Play Money?

Our secretary of state Jon Husted was excoriated yesterday by U.S. District Court Judge Algenon Marbley over the last-minute directive Husted snuck out after business hours the Friday before the election, forbidding Ohio's county boards of election from counting provisional ballots when pollworkers failed to enter some ID information on an accompanying piece of paperwork, which was clearly THEIR job.

Marbley said in his opinion,

The General Assembly made the policy judgment to place the duty to record the identification of a provisional voter with a trained election official. The Secretary may not second guess that decision. If the Secretary could arbitrarily shift any duties of an election official to an individual voter, the Secretary could ensure no error would ever be the fault of a poll worker simply by reassigning all of the poll worker's duties to the voter. This result is not contemplated by Ohio law or permitted by the Constitution.

Husted's saying it's about preventing voter fraud, but the information to do so is already available to those processing provisionals. And it's likely that of Ohio's 200,000 provisionals, only a handful have this particular defect, and of those, it's likely that a miniscule number will have issues that suggest a voter was trying to pull something sneaky.

So naturally:

Secretary of State Jon Husted promptly said his office would appeal the ruling to the Cincinnati-based U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

He'll probably end up spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars for every potential "fraudulent" voter — almost all of whom would be caught in the regular processing of provisionals. So basically, it's ALL money wasted.

I don't get what he hopes to accomplish here. Any talk about "voter fraud" is, for the reasons stated about, disingenuous. Does this kind of obstinacy appeal to a crazy base of support he hopes will ride him to the governor's mansion? Is he unconcerned about potential blowback? Does he really not care about the terrible national press this is getting him — and Ohio?

This directive has so little impact on any real number of votes that it has a "because I can" vibe to it. But continuing to appeal decisions such as Marbley's, who has decided previously on Husted's propensity for wanting to punish voters for pollworker errors, costs Ohio in terms of money AND reputation. When I hear even Republicans I know talking about who can replace him, maybe it's time to just stop already and spend the money on making it easier for people to vote.

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