On Wednesday Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced that all Ohio districts will follow a uniform early-voting policy. Husted’s announcement comes after intense media attention and public scrutiny over what a New York Times Op-Ed called “overt discrimination” in Ohio’s early-voting restrictions.
Earlier this week, we reported that early voting stations in Ohio’s Democratic-leaning counties would be restricted this election season, while its Republican-leaning counties would have expanded early voting hours. When Republican election commissioners blocked Democrat’s efforts to expand early-voting times, Husted, a Republican, stepped in to break the tie, deciding in favor of restricting times in these counties, and allowing Republican-leaning counties to expand their hours to nights and weekends.
The New York Times blasted Ohio lawmakers in their Op-Ed, saying: “This is just the latest alarming example of how Republicans across the country are trying to manipulate the electoral system by blocking the voting rights of their opponents. These actions have a disproportionate effect on blacks, Hispanics and other ethnic minorities who struggled for so long to participate in American democracy. [...] In Ohio, as in other states, the Republican Party is establishing a reputation for putting short-term political gain ahead of the most fundamental democratic rights.”
The uniform policy announced by Husted on Wednesday will extend early-voting hours to 7 p.m. on weekdays in the two weeks before the election; however, there will be no early voting in the final three days before Election Day.
Media Resources: Feminist Daily Newswire 8/13/12; New York Times 8/14/12 [Update 8/15/12]; Think Progress 8/15/12