COLUMBUS — In the wake of last week’s federal court decision ordering him to do so, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted on Tuesday set uniform hours across the state for in-person early voting that includes the final three days before the Nov. 4 election and subsequent elections.
His latest directive provides for hours on just one Sunday and two Saturdays and no evening hours.
“From my perspective, this matter is now settled,” the Republican secretary of state said. “I urge those who have strenuously opposed uniformity in voting hours to respect the decision of the court as I have and join me in educating Ohioans about their many opportunities to vote.”
For this year’s election, voting would begin 28 days before the election, after the registration deadline has passed. That’s consistent with a new state law eliminating the so-called Golden Week, the period during which would-be voters could register and immediately cast a ballot.
But things could change again. The Golden Week law also faces a federal court challenge.
For the Nov. 4 general election, the new early voting schedule for all 88 counties would be:
● Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except Monday, Nov. 3)
● Saturdays, Oct. 25 and Nov. 1, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
● Sunday, Nov. 2, from 1 to 5 p.m.
● Monday, Nov. 3, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The directive provides for only slightly longer weekday hours for presidential general elections and slightly fewer early voting opportunities for off-year municipal elections, primaries, and special elections.
“After three years and two court rulings, Ohio voters are finally beginning to have the early voting access they need,” said state Sen. Nina Turner (D., Cleveland), Mr. Husted’s Democrat opponent.
“Despite this step, this directive fails to provide for evening early voting hours that working Ohioans need this cycle,” she said. “Even with the final two days of early voting restored, Ohioans still have fewer voting opportunities than they did just one year ago.”
Previously, county boards of elections set their own early voting hours, creating a patchwork of differing schedules across the state with urban counties more likely to have longer hours. Mr. Husted had insisted on uniform hours in all counties, but was criticized for coming down on the side of shorter hours for some rather than longer hours for all.
“When it comes to voting early, the national average is 19 days,” Mr. Husted said. “This November, Ohioans will be able to vote in person, including on weekends, starting 28 days before the election.”
Contact Jim Provance at: email@example.com or 614-221-0496.