Secretary of State’s Directive Allowing Early Voting During Three Days Before Election Day Long Overdue

Affiliate: ACLU of Ohio
October 17, 2012 11:01 am

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CLEVELAND –Secretary of State Jon Husted’s directive setting expanded statewide early voting hours for all three days before the election is long overdue, but the correct move for Ohio voters. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow a lower court’s order to stand, forced Secretary Husted to issue a directive establishing uniform expanded hours.

“The federal court essentially forced Husted into allowing these early voting days,” said Mike Brickner, director of communications and public policy. “Nevertheless, the end result gives all Ohio voters what they deserve — expanded access to the polls on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday prior to the election.”

“Secretary Husted should have acted much sooner to allow all Ohioans expanded early voting opportunities,” added Brickner. “Instead, he chose to extend the legal fights, leaving early voting undecided and wasting taxpayer dollars on unnecessary lawsuits.”

Husted’s directive allows early voting on the following dates and times:

Saturday, November 3, 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 4, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Monday, November 5, 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Ohio election officials had previously sought to restrict voting on these days to members of the military and their families. However, the federal court gave them a simple choice; open these opportunities to all voters, or deny them to all voters, military and civilian alike.

The decision also left it up to local boards of elections to set hours, which ran the risk of creating different rules in different counties. For example, the Franklin County Board of Elections, which oversee Columbus, had already announced an unofficial deadlock on whether to allow voters access to the polls on the Sunday and Monday before the election. This contrasted with Wayne County, which had already set hours on Saturday and Monday.

“Deadlock among county Boards of Elections was already creating a situation where voters were facing differing levels of access depending on the partisan makeup of the county they live in,” said Brickner. “Uniformity across counties is important, and it should be achieved by allowing voters the greatest level of access.”

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