Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said he is considering requiring the same set of early voting hours across the state in the run-up to the November election. “There’s nothing forthcoming and nothing in the near term as far as a directive on this matter,” Husted said in an interview, “but I will be listening to local boards of elections’ concerns on this issue.” Husted, a Republican who called himself “a champion for doing things uniformly,” said he would not rule out eventually issuing a directive to address the growing controversy over the hodge-podge of voting hours in each county across Ohio. He has time to think about it. Early voting begins Oct. 2. Democrats and watchdog groups are concerned the mismatched sets of rules on voting hours favor Republican candidates over Democrats.
While the law allows the four-member county boards of election — two Democrats and two Republicans — to set their own hours for in-person early voting, when there is a tie, the secretary casts the deciding vote. Husted said that if called upon to break a tie, he will side with limiting voting to weekday business hours — 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
He’s done that already in a handful of counties, including Cuyahoga, Summit, Franklin and Lucas — Democrat-heavy areas with major Ohio cities, respectively, Cleveland, Akron, Columbus and Toledo at their core. Meanwhile, a few Republican-dominated areas — Warren and Butler counties in Southwest Ohio — have voted to extend their voting hours into evenings and Saturdays.