A number of Toledo area elected Democrats today lambasted Secretary of State Jon Husted’s decision to put all 88 Ohio counties on the same early voting election schedule — cutting the times people can vote early compared to four years ago.
State Sen. Edna Brown (D., Toledo), led a morning news conference calling for longer hours while she criticized the limited early voting hours under Mr. Husted’s directive.
“We had somewhat of a victory yesterday and I thank Secretary of State Husted for providing uniform concern in early voting across the state,” Ms. Brown said. “I don’t believe we have ever had uniformity across the state when it comes to early voting … However, compared to 2008, early voting hours, as well as the number of days, particularly the weekends, have been reduced.”
She said that is unacceptable and that it could lead to longer lines on election day.
Under Mr. Husted’s directive, boards of elections must be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday during the first three weeks of this period, Oct. 2 through Oct. 19, and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday during the last two weeks, Oct. 22 through Nov. 2.
Pete Gerken, president of the Lucas County board of commissioners, spoke harshly of Mr. Husted’s decision.
“This is not acceptable. We know what really is going on here,” Mr. Gerken said. “The opponents of President Obama will outspend us. They can out-spend us. They can’t out work us and they can’t limit our access to that privilege, that right to vote.”
He said in 2008 more than 4,700 people voted on the Saturdays and Sundays leading up to the election at the early vote center.
“I am not satisfied with the secretary of state's half measure and at best it is a half measure,” he said. “Apparently he doesn’t know how working families operate Monday through Friday.”
Also present were commissioners Tina Skeldon Wozniak and Carol Contrada, state Rep. Matt Szollosi of Oregon, the No. 2 Democrat in the Ohio House, Ron Rothenbuhler, the Lucas County Democratic Party chairman and an elections board member, and Toledo Board of Education member Brenda Hill.
The 21 other Ohio counties that had been able to reach agreement on expanded weekday and weekend hours will now have to align their plans to match Mr. Husted’s directive.
“It is easy to vote in Ohio,” Mr. Husted said. “You can start voting 35 days in advance by absentee ballot or in person. Every single voter will receive an absentee ballot request, and if they fill that out and turn it in, they will have more than 750 hours to vote without ever leaving their home.
Under Ohio law, voters may begin mailing in absentee ballots for the Nov. 6 election or casting them in person at designated sites beginning Oct. 2.
The exceptions would be Oct. 8, when offices will be closed for Columbus Day; Oct. 9, when boards must already remain open until 9 p.m. for the voter registration deadline, and Nov. 2, when offices must remain open until 6 p.m., the time under Ohio law when in-person early voting closes for this election for all but military personnel and their families.
These hours are generally longer than the 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. regular hours Monday through Friday that were set in Lucas County when Mr. Husted last week broke a 2-2 partisan deadlock by the board of elections.