Shelia Stewart thought the buses parked outside the Lucas County Board of Elections Early Vote Center meant there was a crowd ahead of her in line to vote. The buses, however, had brought protesters who were there to register opposition to a newly passed state law that shut down the early voting office at 13th and Washington Streets as of 6 p.m. Friday.
“I’m surprised,” said Ms. Stewart, 55, of Toledo’s Old West End after she tugged on the locked door. “My husband said I would not be able to vote, but I did not believe him.” The confusion over the canceled voting exemplified the complaints of the group of black clergy and union leaders about the shutdown of early voting. Several said early voting would have peaked this weekend as voters, having absorbed just about all the information there was to get about the many candidates and issues in the election, were ready to cast their ballots.
“It’s un-American and undemocratic to close the polls the weekend before the vote,” said the Rev. Willie Perryman, pastor of Jerusalem Baptist Church on Dorr Street. “The real reason is they want to suppress the vote.”
The protest is a response to directions from Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to shut down early voting after 6 p.m. Friday before the election, which is Tuesday. Mr. Husted said he was implementing recent changes in state law known as amended substitute to House Bill 224.