Four in 10 Franklin County voters would have to find a new time, place or way to cast their ballots under election-rules championed by Ohio Republicans in a new law. Experts and the people who run local elections fear lower turnout or longer lines on Election Day as a result.
“If we put 140,000 people back on Election Day, you have to wonder,” said William A. Anthony Jr., director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, citing the approximate number of people who took advantage of the conveniences the county offered in 2010 that allowed them to vote without going to the polls. “That’s a whole lot of people,” Anthony said. “Even 60,000 is a lot.”
Or 234,000. That’s the number of Franklin County voters who cast ballots during the 2008 presidential election on dates, at times or in locations that would be shut down if the GOP election changes – which have been signed into law but are the target of a referendum campaign – are implemented.
• Almost 182,000 voters mailed in completed ballots during the first two weeks of a 35-day early-voting period. Early voting by mail would be cut to 21 days under the Republican plan.
• Nearly 52,000 people cast ballots at Veterans Memorial, which was used for in-person early voting in 2008 because it offered more space, easier access and free parking. The new law would ban early voting by machine anywhere except at county elections offices.
• The legislation also would forbid counties from mailing unsolicited absentee-ballot applications to voters. Franklin County sent applications to all registered voters, totaling nearly 1.3 million in 2008 and 2010 combined. About 380,000 voters cast ballots by mail in the two elections.
Proponents say the changes reduce costs for counties, which had been forced to run lengthy early-voting periods even for low-turnout local races. They say Ohio risked lawsuits because voters in every part of the state weren’t extended the same access to early voting.
Full Article: Banned voting options popular | The Columbus Dispatch.