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Government and Politics

GOP lawmaker tries again to restrict weekend voting hours in Ohio
Becker says his bill would reduce chaos at a busy time for election's boards

Jo Ingles
John Becker says eliminating final weekend voting would eliminate confusion.
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In 2008, more than 100,000 Ohioans voted on the Saturday, Sunday or Monday before the general election day. The statewide numbers are not available for last November, but poll watchers reported long lines at boards of elections throughout the state. Now, as Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports, some Republican lawmakers are trying to cut off in-person voting on those three days before future general elections.

LISTEN: Another move to curtail Ohio's early voting hours

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Republican state Rep. John Becker says his bill would allow early in-person voting in Ohio during the two weeks before future November elections but not on the weekends and Mondays before Election Day.

He says county boards of elections “are looking for stability and time to be allocated to do their jobs to get the job done right.”

Becker says he doesn’t believe there was voter fraud, errors or inaccuracies, but the early voting hours “creates chaos in their office to have to jump through these hoops.”

“It’s a matter of scrambling to get the ballots out to the precincts.  There’s just a lot of work the boards of elections have to do the weekend before the election.  And when you are having early voting (too), it creates scheduling issues for the board to get done what they need to get done, especially when it wasn’t planned.”

Why cut back?
Back in 2008, early voting was planned. But by 2012, Republican lawmakers had changed Ohio law to take that weekend away. Democrats and voting rights advocates appealed and about a month before Election Day, a federal court ordered the state to reinstate the weekend voting.  Becker says the federal courts should not be telling Ohio how to run its elections.

But Peg Rosenfield of the Ohio League of Women Voters says “can’t imagine” why GOP lawmakers want to cut back on voting hours.

“That last weekend is enormously important for people to vote … so they don’t have to miss work to vote on Tuesday. And I just can’t understand what the thinking is to make voting less accessible.”

The league opposes Becker’s bill and doesn’t think it will pass. But Becker has a companion bill that would require early in-person voting only on weekdays during business hours.

Listener Comments:

I guess Ohio is trying to out-do North Carolina. For shame!

Posted by: Andrea Jirka (Medina) on August 24, 2013 9:08AM
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