Husted defends his record

From the Columbus Dispatch

By Joe Vardon

Secretary of State Jon Husted said his record as Ohio’s chief elections official is “a balance between making it easy to vote and hard to cheat,” dismissing a movement growing nationally to cast Republican secretaries of state as trying to limit voting access.

“If there is a single person that wanted to vote and was denied that opportunity, I am the first person who wants to know their name and figure out how we can help them and make sure they can cast a ballot if they had trouble,” Husted said this morning during a 2014 Legislative and Political Preview hosted by the Ohio Associated Press. 

“To this day I hear a lot of rhetoric but I have not been presented the name of a single voter who was denied that opportunity.”

Husted, a Republican, will likely be opposed in the fall by Democratic state Sen. Nina Turner, who has already signaled she will base her campaign around the argument that Husted, legislative Republicans, and Gov. John Kasich have sought to limit voting rights in the state. 

But beyond Turner, a new Democratic group is forming to back the party’s candidates for secretary of state in several states, including Ohio, in an attempt to make those elections an argument over voting access. The group, called iVote, was reported this morning by the Associated Press.

“People in politics say crazy things that they can’t justify,” Husted said. “I consider those kinds of statements the kind of crazy things people say.” 

Husted points to his mailing of absentee ballot applications to every Ohio voter in 2012 (which he said he will do again in 2014), and that there were no verified instances of voter suppression and very few instances of voter fraud during presidential election in the state.

But Turner and Democrats say attempts of suppression have occurred through GOP-backed laws to limit early voting, ballot access, and change other voting laws. Some of those laws – like a photo ID bill – didn’t pass. Others did, and some were overturned by courts that ruled they were unconstitutional. 

“The laws I get sued over now are laws that get passed by this General Assembly or the previous General Assembly and I have a responsibility to defend them,” he said.

"Jon Husted is now blaming his friends in the legislature for passing the very laws he helped enact first as Speaker of the House and then as Secretary of State," said Brian Hester, an Ohio Democratic spokesman. "If Jon Husted believed that those laws were unconstitutional, he should spoken up, like Nina Turner has been doing for years.  Ohioans can either have a Secretary of State who takes their oath of office to defend the constitution seriously, or they can have a career politician like Jon Husted who makes excuses."

On another topic, Husted said the only recommendation to come from President Barack Obama’s bipartisan commission on elections that Ohio wasn’t already practicing was on-line voter registration – something Husted is publicly campaigning for. (Democrats disagree with Husted's assessment.)

Husted later told The Dispatch he plans to spend $3 million on his re-election bid this fall.

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