Ohio Secretary Of State Jon Husted Calls For Uniform Early Voting Hours

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted – Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted says he will order all county boards of election to keep the same early voting hours for the November election.

Husted said he will direct boards of election to be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday — but not weekends —  during the first three weeks of early voting, which begins Oct. 2. For the last two weeks, the hours will be 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday though Friday.

In July, the Cuyahoga County Elections Board split evenly along party lines when trying to decide when it would be open for early voting this fall. That sent the decision to Husted. The Republican sided with the board’s GOP members and ruled against extended hours.

Under Ohio law, Husted gets the last say. But Democratic leaders from Northeast Ohio called on him to change his mind, and then the Obama campaign sued.

Husted, a Republican, held a news conference this afternoon as controversy continued to heat up over the mismatched sets of rules on early voting hours for the presidential election in this swing state. Democrats and watchdog groups have said the restricted hours in some counties threaten to suppress the votes of poor and minority voters and others who tend to vote Democratic.

While the law allows the four-member county boards of election — two Democrats and two Republicans — to set their own hours for in-person early voting, when there is a tie, the secretary casts the deciding vote.

Up to this point, Husted had said that if called upon to break a tie, he would side with limiting voting to weekday business hours — 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. He did that already in a handful of counties, including Cuyahoga, Summit, Franklin and Lucas — Democrat-heavy areas with major Ohio cities, respectively, Cleveland, Akron, Columbus and Toledo at their core.

Meanwhile, a few Republican-dominated areas — Warren and Butler counties in Southwest Ohio — had voted to extend their voting hours into evenings and Saturdays. In those counties, Republicans voted with Democrats to extend the hours, whereas Republicans in counties where Husted has broken a tie had voted against extending hours.

A host of state and federal Democratic lawmakers and groups including the American Civil Liberties Union in recent days called on Husted to set uniform rules.

“You have claimed to advocate for ‘uniform standards’ that treat all voters the same,” said a letter to Husted signed Monday by five Ohio senators, including Nina Turner of Cleveland and Tom Sawyer of Akron.

Read the whole story:  Cleveland.com