Secretary of state orders extra evening hours, but none on weekends
Barry M. Horstman reports:
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted ordered all county boards of elections on Wednesday to stay open the same hours this fall.
Secretary of State Jon Husted / AP Photo
Husted’s directive ordering all 88 election boards to standardize their schedules after early voting begins Oct. 2 sets up what state officials believe will be Ohio’s first election with uniform statewide hours.
But while Husted’s order mandates limited extra evening voting hours, it will prevent boards from opening on weekends as most did in the 2008 presidential election, when tens of thousands of Ohio voters cast early in-person absentee ballots.
Husted, a Republican, apparently acted to quell a growing national controversy over disparities in voting hours that appeared to give Republicans an edge in November. He had been widely criticized since The Enquirer reported 10 days ago that he had cast tie-breaking votes blocking extra voting hours in major urban areas that traditionally favor Democrats even as GOP-leaning counties extended their hours.
Wednesday’s order will “level the playing field,” Husted said. “I have sought to create an environment where the election can be about candidates and their ideas, not the process for electing them.”
Some top Ohio Democrats quickly denounced the decision move as one that does more to advance the Republicans’ political agenda in the presidential election than to lower voting hurdles.
“Each moment we get closer to Election Day, Republicans find more ways to chip away at the number of days and hours Ohio voters have access to the polls,” said Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern.
Alex Triantafilou, chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party, dismissed that criticism as a “predictable part … of the political theater Democrats are using to try to excite their base.”
“The secretary acted very boldly here to standardize voting hours across the state, as it should be,” Triantafilou said. “But I’m not surprised it didn’t satisfy the Democrats.”
Before Husted’s announcement created a statewide solution to what previously had been a county-by-county question, the Hamilton County elections board had scheduled today to decide whether to extend local early voting hours this fall. (more…)
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