Early-voting hours in Cuyahoga County for the November presidential election will be more restrictive than for the March primary after Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted decided not to allow weekend voting. Husted announced his tie-breaking vote Friday, two days after the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections deadlocked along party lines on whether to open board offices on the last two Saturdays and Sundays in October for voting. Husted did not wait for the board members to submit written proposals regarding their views, which is the usual procedure following a tie vote. A representative from Husted’s office was present at the elections board meeting Wednesday night and heard both sides of the issue, said spokesman Matt McClellan. Based on that, Husted was able to make a decision, McClellan said. McClellan added that when Husted had training sessions for board of elections officials in June he made it clear that while extending hours for in-person early voting was a local decision, he would vote against it if there were tie votes.
During the March primary, the Cuyahoga County board’s offices were open on the last two weekends in February. Sandy McNair and Inajo Davis Chappell, the two Democratic members of the board, wanted to allow weekend voting before the November election while Republican members Jeff Hastings and Deborah Sutherland said weekday hours are sufficient. Hastings, the board chairman, said Thursday that fewer people will vote in person on Election Day because absentee ballot applications will be mailed to all Ohio voters for the first time this year.
In a letter sent Friday to Jane Platten, director of the Elections Board, Husted wrote: “I cannot create unequal access from one county board to another, but I must also keep in mind the resources available to each county. The reality is that local boards are operating under tight budget constraints on a day-to-day basis under their normal business hours. There is sufficient time already available during the Cuyahoga County board’s regular business hours for the casting of absent voters’ ballots in person.”