The man in charge of the voting system in the state of Ohio says he prefers people utilize absentee ballots for a whole host of reasons. Secretary of State Jon Husted stopped by the Daily Times newsroom Wednesday and talked about voting early.
“We like early voting because it reduces the chance that there will be a line at the polls on election day,” Husted said in an exclusive interview with the Times. “The reason Ohio created early voting was because in 2oo4 we had some locations that had hours of waiting and that’s unacceptable.”
Husted said instead of spending money on new voting machines, by early voting, you can spread the voting process out.
“People have come to enjoy the convenience of it and the fact that they can do the research,” Husted said. “A lot of times you will go in and vote and you’ll have candidates on there that you don’t know anything about and you don’t necessarily want to vote for one of them, so when you vote by mail, you get some time to go online or look at the newspaper, and take a look at who these people are and make a decision as to who the person is that you want to vote for.”
In recent years, though Ohio is a pioneer in early voting, and allows people to vote 28 days before the election, there has been a controversy surrounding the process with the issue ending up in court.
“I have always wanted to make Ohio a place where it’s easy to vote and hard to cheat, and you have to strike that balance,” Husted said. “Ohio, in one point in time, did have 35 days of early voting, and that overlapping period, called the ‘golden week,’ allowed you to register to vote and vote at the same time. The problem that was discovered was that the people, particularly during presidential elections, would be in coming to Ohio from other states, volunteering for campaigns, working on campaigns, and they would register and vote at the same time and they weren’t Ohioans. They were people from other states.”
Husted said, by shortening the early voting period to 28 days, the problem was eliminated. He said one of the misunderstandings in the minds of people watching the election process in Ohio is that it was Republicans who created early voting in Ohio.
Why is there complaining about Ohio’s 28 voting days from states where voters are only allowed to vote on election day?
Husted said the group that originally filed the complaint about Ohio’s 28 pre-election voting days was a group out of New York named Demos, and New York has only one day of voting.He said it is usually not people from Ohio who complain about the rules, but people from other states who believe it will create an advantage for them politically.
“There are 13 states that don’t have early voting at all, including Kentucky,” Husted said. “Ohio has an ample opportunity to vote and it’s not a violation of the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution to shorten that period as the Democrats were complaining.”
Husted summed up what he perceives the situation to be in Ohio.
“When you have 28 days to vote, the only one stopping you from voting is you,” Husted said.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.