Home Opinion OPINION: Jon Husted has shown nothing but contempt for democracy

OPINION: Jon Husted has shown nothing but contempt for democracy

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Jon Husted. Photo via Ohio Secretary of State.

Although Jon Husted dropped out of Ohio’s race for governor, he’s still vying for lieutenant governor on Mike DeWine’s ticket. Opinion writer Tim Zelina says Ohio voters must think twice about supporting him.

The name Jon Husted may not bring forth the sort of vitriolic disgust that hearing the name Donald Trump might. But if one pays a close eye to Ohio politics, one will understand why it should. Although Husted serves a relatively innocuous job as secretary of state, he has used his position to repeatedly attack the institution of democracy, abusing his influence over Ohio elections to push the needle towards his favored candidates. Now, as he stands as a favorite to take the lieutenant governor seat, Ohioans must unite in opposition to this corrupt figure.

Last month, Republican gubernatorial candidate and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine united with Husted under a single ticket, effectively ending the Republican primary before it even began. The duo are giants in the Ohio political scene. Both possess widespread name recognition, vast fundraising armies and experience serving in Gov. John Kasich’s relatively popular state government. By combining forces, they have essentially cleared the field, sending U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, into a mad dash for the U.S. Senate nomination while Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor inexplicably continues to pretend she still has a chance.

Yet DeWine’s move, offering Husted the lieutenant governor position, is a bitter pill to swallow for those of us who have not forgiven Husted for his past misdoings. In fact, this makes DeWine an untenable option.

Many readers may wonder: what has Husted done to elicit this author’s total contempt?

Lets harp back to early 2016; the primaries are in full swing, Sen. Bernie Sanders is neck-and-neck with Hillary Clinton, insurgent Trump is snatching win after win. Meanwhile, in a small suburb a little east of Cleveland, a 17-year-old high school senior has spent the past week getting friends registered to vote for the upcoming primaries.

Ohio has a wonderful little law where teenagers who are 17-years-old at the primary are allowed to vote in said primary as long as they will be 18-years-old by the election. It is a solid rule; if they can vote for the candidate in the general election, it only makes sense they be allowed to vote for which candidate makes it past the primary!

But a few days before the election, with this high school senior (have you guessed that senior is me yet?) and his pals ready to vote, Husted came out swinging. Seventeen-year-olds will not be voting in the presidential primary. Sorry, kids who are excited about participating in a healthy democracy: this is a red state.

The move shocked civil rights groups across the country, and even resulted in a lawsuit by Sanders. Since 1981, 17-year-olds have cast ballots in the presidential primary; why were they no longer allowed?

Husted had an excuse reminiscent of the annoying kid in class who tries to get out of trouble by being excessively pedantic over the language of the rules. Husted pointed out that the resolution adopted by Ohio that allows 17-year-olds to vote only allowed them to nominate candidates, not elect them. What does that have to do with the primaries? Well, technically, you elect delegates in a presidential primary, not vote to nominate a candidate. Therefore, you can’t vote in the primary if you’re under 18.

Yes, this was Husted’s real justification for his disgustingly authoritarian move. In case you think that sounds like a weak, childish excuse, Ohio courts agreed; his ruling was tossed out by judges as a flawed interpretation of the resolution. It is doubtful Husted expected anything less; in fact, one has to note that his timing — announcing this policy change a week before the primary — likely reflected his hope that courts would not toss it out until the primary had already passed. Unfortunately for Husted (but fortunately for Ohio voters), the judiciary was having none of his games.

This wasn’t the first of Husted’s games, but rather one of the most egregious. Husted has shown his flair for voter suppression plenty for one to make example of. He’s even being sued for violating the electoral rights of blind people. Husted simply can’t help himself from suppressing democratic processes.

In fact, not long after he was elected as secretary of state, Husted made a rule that may seem benign at face value; Ohio polls must open and close at the same time statewide. However, this rule had a subtle bite to it. Ohio polls often opened earlier and closed later in dense urban areas, because so many more people had to go to the polls. Hours-long lines would make voting difficult for anyone with a day job, so the extended hours helped alleviate the burden.

Husted was having none of that. Urban voters are significantly more likely to be Democrats. Rather than risk letting these (largely African-American) urban voters participate in democracy, Husted preferred to enact rules that remind one of suppressive tactics like poll taxes and literacy tests. By reducing the opportunities for African-American urban voters to cast their ballots, Husted has created a voting system that resembles a modern Jim Crow.

Husted has shown nothing but contempt for democracy, particularly the democratic participation of left-leaning groups. This corrupt and shameless politician has incessantly abused his position as secretary of state to rig results in his party’s favor, and now he has the gall to seek further office in Ohio. By adding Husted to his ticket, DeWine has made himself complicit in these activities. Ohio voters must reject these unethical individuals come November; one can only imagine what further suppression will be pursued should they win.

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