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Ohio


Some Republican-leaning counties have more voting hours
GOP Secretry of State votes against extended voting hours, but says no one is left out
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE CORRESPONDENT JO INGLES


Reporter
Jo Ingles
 
Sec. of State John Husted
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It looks like voters in Republican areas of Ohio will get more opportunities to vote heading into the November election than those in Democratic areas of the state. That has Democrats crying foul, and a Republican secretary of state justifying the disparity.  Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports.

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When Ohioans went to vote in the 2008 presidential election, they could cast ballots in person the weekend before Election Day. Lynne Edward Kincaid, the director of the Butler County Board of Elections, remembers that Saturday and Sunday in 2008.

“You would not believe the crowds that we had,” Kincaid says.  “And the line was 2 1/2 to four blocks long.”

But he won't at this point be offering extra  hours on Saturdays in October and later hours on some business days during the week. 

Butler is a Republican area.  But Jerid Kurtz, a spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party, notes that similar attempts says to extend voting hours in Democratic areas have run into a roadblock.

In some big city counties including Cuyahoga, Franklin, Lucas and Summit, “they are choosing not to give access,” Kurtz says. “And Republicans are using every tool at their disposal to limit access and it’s very disturbing.”

Each county board is made up of two Democrats and two Republicans. And in many of those big counties, the Democrats have voted for extended hours. Republicans members have opposed them. Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted breaks any such tie votes and has come down against extending voting hours. 

Kurtz says his party wants extended voting in all counties, regardless of whether they lean Republican or Democratic.

And Mike Brickner with the American Civil Lliberties Union of Ohio is calling on Husted to make that change.

“He should issue a standard guideline for all boards of elections to have the same hours for early voting. And we are saying he needs to expand early voting hours so … all county boards of elections should have evening and weekend early voting hours,” Brickner says.

For his part, Husted says he’s been consistent.

“I’m not going to break the tie in favor of a patchwork of different hours across the state,” Husted says.  “I will be consistent in how I break the tie and that is that we will break the tie in favor of normal business hours.”

Husted says people who cannot vote in person early at their local board of elections during normal business hours and cannot vote on ElectionD still have the option of voting early by mail. He says no one is disenfranchised by his decisions.

“If … Democrats are arguing is they want me to set uniform hours for the entire state, I’m reluctant to do that, but I will gladly set those uniform hours if that’s what they desire but you can’t have it both ways,” Husted says.

The Democrat’s Kurtz says the party isn’t asking Husted to restrict voting, but to expand it so all Ohioans can vote early.  He notes that in 2008, nearly 30 percent of Ohioans voted early and of those, 93,000 voted in the three days preceeding Election Day. 

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