early voting

Ohio's amazing "Golden Week" – the week before the deadline for voter registration where Ohioans can register to vote and cast their ballots at the same time.

Amazing, because it seems to keep materializing and de-materializing.

Abracadabra! Hocus pocus! Now you see it; now you don't.

Wednesday marks the first of 27 days of early voting before Ohio's March 15th primary election.

Ohio's 88 county boards of elections can begin mailing out absentee ballots to those who have applied for them; and voters can cast ballots at specific times at board of election offices.

Because this is a presidential primary election for both Republicans and Democrats, election officials like Sherry Poland, Hamilton County's elections director, are preparing for large numbers of early voters.

WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson spoke with Maryanne Zeleznik this morning about voter turnout in Ohio and Kentucky; and about Jim Tarbell's write-in campaign for Hamilton County commissioner.

Early last Tuesday morning – the first day of early in-person voting at Ohio’s boards of elections – we stopped by the Hamilton County Board of Elections downtown fully expecting to see a line of voters eager to cast the first ballots in the 2014 election.

In past years – particularly gubernatorial and presidential elections – there have been long lines outside the board’s offices on Broadway, sometimes stretching around the block. Sometimes, people would camp out overnight on the sidewalk to be first in line.

Not this time.

Registered Ohio voters can begin in-person early voting at their county boards of elections beginning 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Ohio is back to the hours set earlier by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, with 28 days to vote by absentee ballot or in-person at the boards of elections.

Early voting might have started on Sept. 30, but the U.S. Supreme Court on Sept. 29 granted an emergency plea from state officials to block a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling expanding early voting days and times.

U.S. Supreme Court says early in person voting won’t start in Ohio Tuesday

Sep 29, 2014

Early voting that was set to begin Tuesday won’t happen after all.

The U.S. Supreme Court has put a hold on in person, early voting in Ohio. The ruling will remain in effect until the court acts on an appeal by state officials. And since that appeal has not yet formally been filed , it means the Golden week, when Ohioans can both register to vote and cast a ballot at the same time, will not be allowed. 

Ohio’s 35 day period of early voting – beginning next Tuesday - will remain in effect after a three-judge panel of the Cincinnati-based Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the state of Ohio’s appeal Wednesday.

But Secretary of State Jon Husted said Wednesday he will ask the full 15-member federal appeals court to hear the state’s appeal of the decision. Time is running out for that, though, with early voting set to start in five days.

It is not yet clear whether the full appeals court will agree to hear the state’s appeal.

WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked this morning with Maryanne Zeleznik about the legal battle over early voting in Ohio.

Ohio’s “Golden Week” of early voting is back.

So too are the 35 day early voting period and extended evening and weekend hours for in-person early voting.

All thanks to a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Peter Economus of Cleveland; and a refusal by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to put a stay on Economus’ decision.

Ohio Republicans are furious. Ohio Democrats are jubilant.

But, in the end, does it really matter?

Both sides think so, for different reasons, of course.

The debate over voting rights in Ohio rages on, unabated.  

Democrats argue that the Republicans in the legislature and the Republican secretary of state, Jon Husted, have done everything in their power to make it difficult for Democrats – particularly African-American voters – to cast a ballot.

Husted and the Republicans argue that you would be hard-pressed to find a state that gives its people more opportunities to cast a ballot, with its 28-day early voting period for both mail-in absentee ballots and early in-person voting at the state’s 88 county boards of elections.

 

Voting by absentee ballot and early in-person voting for the May 6 primary began Tuesday at Ohio's 88 county boards of elections.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's office said Tuesday county boards of elections had already received nearly 24,000 requests for absentee ballots. They began mailing out the ballots today.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, the state’s chief election officer, put out a rather cheery press release this week to let Ohio voters know how well off they are when it comes to early voting.

“Voting in Ohio is easy,” the headline read, accompanied by a multi-colored graphic showing Ohio and its multiple ways of voting, alongside mean old states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky, which Husted said don’t afford voters so many opportunities.

In politics, if you have the numbers, you get to make the rules.

In Ohio, the Republicans have the numbers – they control both the Ohio House and Senate, they have one of their own in the governor’s office, John Kasich, and a Republican as the state’s chief elections officer, Secretary of State Jon Husted.

What Kasich, Husted and the legislature have done in recent weeks is to wield that power to make some rather big changes in the early voting system Ohio has used since 2006.

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