COLUMBUS -- Ohio House Democrats argued Wednesday that setting uniform hours across the state for in-person early voting will not lead to uniform treatment of voters.
"Setting uniform hours treats all county boards [of elections] the same, but it treats voters unequally and unfairly," said House Minority Leader Armond Budish (D., Beachwood). "Secretary Husted's edicts will result in disparities bringing back long lines in large urban counties."
He noted that Cuyahoga, the state's most populous county, and much smaller Warren, near Cincinnati, both saw 8 percent of their voters cast ballots early in person in 2008. But that translated to 1,500 votes per day in Cuyahoga compared with Warren's 241.
Mr. Husted said the rules will not change.
"Voting in Ohio is uniform, accessible, fair, and secure," he said. "This year with the combination of absentee ballots and early in-person voting, Ohioans will have more access to voting than ever before. Early voting starts 35 days before the election and there are more than 750 hours to vote by mail and 230 hours to vote in person, plus all day on Election Day."
Battles on early voting are being waged on multiple fronts. While Democrats openly challenge Mr. Husted's directive setting uniform hours, President Obama's re-election campaign is in federal court seeking to force Ohio to allow in-person early voting on the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday immediately preceding the Nov. 6 election.
Under Ohio law, in-person early voting must end at 6 p.m. on the Friday before the Nov. 6 election, with the exception of military personnel and their immediate families.
Mr. Husted issued a directive last week setting expanded weekday hours for boards of elections to be open for early voting but provided for no weekend voting.
Previously, the board of elections in each county set its own hours. Mr. Husted faced criticism after he broke a series of 2-2 ties in Lucas and other urban counties in favor of restricting early voting to normal business hours. In the meantime, a number of Republican-performing counties did not deadlock and set early voting hours on Saturdays.