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Early voting period debate continues in Ohio

Courtesy of MCT

The debate over early voting in Ohio continues, and the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has been asked to weigh in on the matter.
At the heart of the issue is in-person voting, specifically the three days leading up to Nov. 6 Election Day.
Over the past months, each of the 88 county boards of elections, made up of two Democrats and two Republicans, voted on what their county’s polling hours would be.
Majority vote ruled, with ties submitted to Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted for resolution.
This led to different polling hours and an eventual directive, issued by Husted, standardizing them across all counties.
The directive did not include weekend voting hours between Oct. 2 and Nov. 2 and did not include any hours for the three days before Election Day.
According to a Columbus Dispatch article, 100,000 Ohioans voted during those days in 2008.
There is, however, one group still allowed to vote during this time period: UOCAVA (The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act) voters.
UOCAVA voters are U.S. citizens living overseas, including members of the Uniformed Services.
Last July, Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and the Ohio Democratic Party filed a suit against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
The suit contended that voting hours should be offered equally to everyone and Husted’s directive unfairly penalized lower-income, minority voters who tended to vote Democrat.
“I think that the primary issue is that those three days of voting are not necessary,” said Niraj Antani, a fourth-year in political science and philosophy, and the communications director for the Ohio State College Republicans. “It takes time away from preparing for Election Day.”
Mallory Kimble, a third-year in business, and president of the College Democrats at Ohio State, disagrees.
“I think that the three days should be restored just because voting is something that should be made as accessible as possible to everyone,” Kimble said.
Mark Schade, a first-year in international business, shares in this belief.
“I think that if you’re going to let some people do it you should just let everybody do it,” Schade said. “I get that they’re in the military, but at the same time it has to be equal to everybody.”
The defendants cited increased pressure placed upon elections boards and poll workers if they were to remain open to everyone for those hours.
They also argued those who serve the country are entitled to the additional hours owing to the uncertainty of their deployment and the extra challenges they face.
Robert Ward, a second-year in molecular genetics, agrees with them.
“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal to let people in the military vote first,” Ward said. “Just give a couple days to people who gave a ton of time to us, it doesn’t seem like a huge trade off.”
Members of the Franklin County Board of Elections declined to comment.
The initial hearing, filed in the Ohio Southern District court located in Franklin County, sided with the plaintiffs and ordered in-person voting be open to everyone three days prior to the election.
The ruling has been appealed and will be decided by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati. According to a Sept. 11 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals document, the case began briefing on Sept. 10.
Fifteen appellants, all organizations representing members of the Uniformed Services, have joined the case on the side of the defendants.
In-person early voting will begin in Ohio on Oct. 2, and absentee ballots are already being accepted throughout the state.

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