Yesterday, Secretary of State Jon Husted officially charted the days and hours for early voting for the November 2014 General Election. This decision, which does not apply to the 2016 Presidential Election, was adopted from the proposal of the Ohio Association of Election Officials (OAEO) on absentee voting. Click here for the SOS press release and link to the directive.
Secretary Husted’s directive implements a bipartisan proposal by the OAEO and will give Ohioans the ability to cast an absentee ballot in person over the course of four weeks leading up to Election Day. During the week, all Boards of Elections (BOE) will be open for voting from 8:00am to 5:00pm, and on the last two Saturdays before the election, from 8:00am to 4:00pm.
There has been criticism from the Democratic Party for not allowing Sunday voting citing the need based on voter turnout for the 2012 Presidential Election. However 2014 is not a presidential year and should more appropriately be compared to the Gubernatorial Election of 2010.
When comparing voting hours in 2010 to 2014 for Hamilton County, Secretary Husted has actually increased early voting hours one hour on weekdays (4pm to 5pm) and 4 hours on Saturday (noon to 4pm).
In 2010 Hamilton County early voting was open on two Sundays, October 17th and 24th with the number of people voting at the BOE on these days being 97 and 199 persons respectively. Amy Searcy, Director of the Hamilton County BOE, reported to Ohio VIP that because of Sunday’s low voter turnout, the cost to the taxpayer for having the BOE open for these 2 days was approximately $30 per vote!
Since similar turnout can be expected for Sundays during early voting for 2014, Ohio VIP agrees with Secretary Husted’s decision to increase Saturday voting hours and to eliminate Sunday voting for this year’s November election.
Secretary of State Husted’s directive also makes early voting hours uniform throughout the state where previously early voting hours were left up to the discretion of the individual Boards of Elections. In addition the directive mandates that all voters be mailed an absentee ballot request so that every voter has the opportunity to vote from the convenience of their home.
It is our opinion the hours and other instructions set by this directive are equitable for all Ohio voters. Secretary Husted should be praised for listening to the bipartisan OAEO who has the expertise and experience with election procedure to determine what is in the best interest of the voters, the taxpayers and the individual Boards of Elections.