Last week, I wrote about the looming Battle of Cuyahoga, where a dispute over absentee ballot applications pitted Ohio Secretary of Jon Husted against Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.
Late last week, the two men met and reached a compromise: Cuyahoga agreed not to defy the state and mail absentee ballot applications in 2011, while the state agreed to allow all Ohio counties to mail such applications in advance of 2012. The compromise defuses the immediate controversy, but it also will allow the election community in Ohio and across the nation to evaluate a few key questions about absentee ballots.
In his statement on the agreement, FitzGerald said that about half of Cuyahoga voters use absentee ballots and alleviate long lines at the polls. Under the agreement, it will be interesting to see if Cuyahoga voters continue their high rate of absentee ballot usage and if this number increases as a result of the application mailings.
Husted, on the other hand, expressed satisfaction that all Ohio counties would follow the same rules and that “voters in smaller counties will have the same conveniences as voters in larger counties.” As we enter 2012, we will be able to measure the rates at which all counties cast absentee ballots and see if this idea of leveling the absentee playing field is borne out in 2012.