Early voting got off to a rousing start this week across Ohio. The number of voters eager to cast their ballots — in person — on the first day they could do so indicates that expanding opportunities to vote is both popular and good policy. Is Secretary of State Jon Husted listening?
In Lucas County, 928 people voted on Tuesday — nearly twice as many as turned out on the first day of early voting in 2008. Summit County more than doubled its vote total (1,035) compared to four years ago.
Franklin County's 1,396 voters represented a 92 percent increase over 2008. Numbers also were up in Montgomery County (695 ballots cast), Butler County (540), and Hamilton County (816).
Mr. Husted, a Republican, has said he based his decision to restrict early-voting hours and not to allow weekend voting in person, even on the final three days before Election Day, on his belief that fairness demanded that every county offer the same voting hours. He notes that Ohioans have greater opportunity than ever before to cast mail absentee ballots.
But Tuesday's turnout suggests that partisan considerations are at work. In Lucas County, Republican officials dismissed the large number of Democrats who turned out on Tuesday.
They said that Republicans are more likely to vote by mail or in person on Election Day. That suggests why early voting has been made more difficult this year than in 2008: Democrats are more likely to vote early in person.
Yesterday, a federal appeals court upheld a lower-court ruling that rejected an Ohio law prohibiting nonmilitary voters from casting ballots on the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before Election Day, Nov. 6. That makes election-related litigation more likely if the presidential vote is close in Ohio, a traditional battleground state.
Secretary Husted says he doesn't want to make rules; all he wants to do is oversee a smooth, efficient election. But his actions suggest otherwise.
It may be too late for county elections boards to expand early voting to include weekends and more evening hours between now and Nov. 6. But it's not too late for Mr. Husted to comply with the court ruling and allow all Ohio voters — not just members of the military and their families — to vote on the three days before the general election.
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