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Published: Tuesday, 8/7/2012

Ohio secretary of state settles Lucas election board dispute

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted today settled a Lucas County Board of Elections dispute over hours of operation for an early voting center to be used during the November presidential election, but the board remained deadlocked on a location.

The board Monday voted 2-2 on Republican member Jon Stainbrook’s proposal to limit the center’s hours to the board of elections’ regular business hours, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, except on Nov. 2, when it would be open until 6 p.m.

In a letter to the board of elections, Mr. Husted said there is sufficient time already available during regular business hours for the casting of absent voters’ ballots in person.

“I cannot create unequal access from one county board to another, and I must also keep in mind the resources available to each county,” he wrote. “The reality is that local boards are operating under tight budget constraints on a day-to-day basis under their normal business hours.”

Mr. Husted also wrote: “Because Ohio voters have the option to vote from home via absentee ballot during the more-than-750-hour period that covers the no fault absentee voting period, there is no need for extended hours for in-person absentee voting.”

Ron Rothenbuhler, elections board chairman, said the limited schedule would be a hardship on people with daytime jobs or limited time after they get off work to vote early at the center.

Regarding the location, the board deadlocked 2-2 on eight motions Monday, including one made by Mr. Stainbrook to move the early voting site from downtown Toledo to the Lucas County Recreation Center in Maumee.

On Tuesday, Democratic board members Mr. Rothenbuhler and Keila Cosme voted in favor of using the EMS Training Center, 2127 Jefferson Ave. Mr. Stainbrook and his fellow Republican board member, Tony DeGidio, voted against it. The two Republicans then voted in favor of the former Toledo Police station at 2328 West Sylvania Ave. The Democrats voted against it.

Finally, the two Republicans voted in favor of One Government Center, and the Democrats again said no. Mr. Rothenbuhler and Ms. Cosme both pointed out that there would be no free parking downtown near One Government Center.

The three new deadlocked votes will be sent to Mr. Husted to break the ties.



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