By Frank Lewis and Wayne Allen
In light of the recent federal court ruling in Obama for America v. Husted, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted Tuesday set uniform hours for “all future elections” in Ohio. It includes all future Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays before Election Day, starting with the Aug. 5 Special Election.
Husted spoke to local officials about the changes at Shawnee Lodge Wednesday.
“The federal court has affirmed what I have long advocated: That all voters in Ohio should have the same opportunity to vote,” Husted said. “The uniform hours I am setting today will cover all future elections as the court required, taking into account the differences between municipal, special, primary, general and presidential elections.
Husted announced that when it comes to voting early, the national average is 19 days. He said this November, Ohioans will be able to vote in person, including on weekends, starting 28 days before the election. Additionally, he said he will be sending all registered voters an application to vote by mail so they have four weeks to vote without ever having to leave home.
“From my perspective, this matter is now settled. I urge those who have strenuously opposed uniformity in voting hours to respect the decision of the court as I have and join me in educating all Ohioans about their many opportunities to vote,” Husted said. “In the end, I am pleased that voters and all involved in elections will now have certainty and know the rules well in advance of the election. It is my sincere hope that in the future Republicans and Democrats can work together to put voters first and avoid these kinds of controversies.”
Husted was in Scioto County Wednesday at the Shawnee Lodge and Conference Center to address elections officials from the area as part of the 2014 Ohio Elections Officials Summer Regional Meetings.
“I’m sure there are a few people in this room, no matter which political party you’re from sees this as kind of overkill in some circumstances. Some may see this as wasteful of your resources, having to be open when nobody is showing up,” Husted said. “I know that’s frustrating to you, but we’re trying to find a compromise. With the courts, voices in Columbus and everyone trying to make sure that everybody’s concerns are satisfied and I know for some of you it’s to much. But, in the end the one principal I was most concerned about has prevailed and that’s making sure that weather you’re from Scioto County or Sandusky County that everyone is voting by the same set of rules.”
Husted said he is sensitive to the causes and knows aspects of the directive may be issues for some county boards of elections.
“My goal is to try to find ways that we can continue to try to minimize cost to you. But, also navigate the desire that exists to have expansive voting hours, expansive opportunities to satisfy state law and the court system,” Husted said. “That is what we’re doing and hopefully you understand that and will work with us the best you can to help implement this successfully.”
Husted expressed to those in attendance the importance of the work they do.
“The work that we do is something that’s very important to extending that part of our nations heritage and other things that sets up apart from many many people in the world. There are millions of people who don’t have the opportunity to cast a ballot, to pick the leaders of our nation and our community,” Husted said.
Husted said the efforts to preserving and expanding democracy in Ohio starts on Saturday, when military ballots are mailed.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt. Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or on Twitter @WayneAllenPDT.