Election boards split over final weekend of in-person voting

Oct 15, 2012

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted asked county boards of elections to tell him what they want to do about in-person voting the final three days before the election, while Husted waits for a decision on whether the U.S. Supreme Court would hear his appeal of his ban on voting during that period.

In southwest Ohio, the answers Husted is getting are all over the map – with Democratic board members wanting more hours and Republicans generally wanting less.

The Hamilton County Board of Elections met Monday morning and voted unanimously  – two Democrats and two Republicans – to keep the board office open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Saturday before the Nov. 6 election.

But the Republicans and the Democrats split along party lines on a Democratic motion to remain open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday.

“Some of us on the board talked before the meeting and we agreed that we are not the ones who are going to decide this,’’ said Tim Burke, chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Elections and the county Democratic party chairman. “(Husted) is the one who is going to decide.”

In a meeting last Friday, the two Democrats on the Butler County Board of Elections voted for a recommendation that the board be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday.

Elections director Lynn Kinkaid said the vote took place when the two Republicans weren’t there. One, he said, was excused from the meeting and the other had stepped out of the room.

Kinkaid said the two Republicans on the board sent Husted a recommendation that hours could be extended on the Friday before the election, but that the board should remain closed on the three final days.

In Warren County, the board met Monday afternoon and split along  party lines on what to recommend to Husted.

A Republican motion would have in-person voting from 8 a.m. until noon on the Saturday before the election and no in-person voting on Sunday or Monday.

The Democrats had two motions, both of which ended in tie votes, with the Republicans opposed. They would have the board open on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. All the motions will be sent off to Husted’s office.

Judy Miller, director of the Clermont County Board of Elections, said the Clermont board will take up the issue at a meeting on Friday.

Last week, Husted sent an advisory to boards of elections asking their recommendations. If the U.S. Supreme Court does not hear his appeal, Husted said in the advisory he would be “establishing uniform days and hours for in-person absentee voting for all voters during the three days immediately before election day.”

Burke said “if he (Husted) gets cute about it, he’ll find himself back in federal court. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Matt McClellan, a spokesman for Husted, said the secretary of state is awaiting word on whether or not the U.S. Supreme Court will hear his appeal.

“No matter what the outcome, the secretary will set uniform hours for all the counties,’’ McClellan said.