August 17, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A group of voting rights advocates (listed below) today called on Secretary of State Husted to restore at least two weekends for in-person early voting.
“While we understand Secretary Husted’s desire for uniformity, early voting hours must also be reasonable,” said Carrie Davis, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. “Voters in many counties have come to expect that they will be able to cast an early ballot on Saturday or Sunday. Challenging budget times may mean that county Boards of Elections cannot offer early in-person voting every weekend, but even offering two weekends for early voting would make a big difference for working Ohioans”
Recent restrictions on extended hours and weekends for early in-person voting have eliminated the voting times when some 257,000 Ohioans voted in 2008.* Secretary of State Husted’s Directive 2012-35 restores only 53,000 of these votes but denies the public the opportunity to vote on weekends.
Restoration of two weekends for voting would permit another 51,000 to vote, and most of all give working people and African Americans (who used in-person voting heavily) a chance to vote the way they preferred in 2008. Indeed, more than this number might vote on these weekends because three other weekends would still be denied to them. We note that despite availability of mailed vote-by-mail applications in 2008 in some counties, many voters in those counties chose to vote early in-person rather than by mail. Therefore, mail applications are no substitute for our proposal.
We ask Sec. of State Husted to issue a revised Directive requiring that in addition to offering extended hours to 7:00 p.m. for in-person absentee voting on Monday through Friday on October 22 through November 5, every Board of Elections should be required to also be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m on Saturday, October 20 and Saturday, October 28; and from noon to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 21, and Sunday, October 28.
In deference to special needs of smaller counties, the Boards of Elections should also be instructed that they may obtain a waiver if their board members request one by unanimous vote.
This statement endorsed by:
League of Women Voters of Ohio, Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates, Project Vote, Ohio AFL-CIO, Miami Valley Voter Protection Coalition, Ohio Women with Disabilities Network, and Citizens Alliance for Secure Elections
*Documentation of these numbers, derived in part from data from Cuyahoga and Franklin counties, is available on request from N. Robbins and will be posted shortly in a Research Report, “Effects of legislation and Directives on early in-person (EIP) voting in Ohio in 2012”, at www.nova-ohio.org.