Many boards of election decided to reduce the number of polling places in an effort to save money.
Democrats remain upset at Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted for eliminating early in-person voting on weekends across the state. Husted ordered weekday only hours after concerns were raised by Democrats that some county boards of election had okayed weekend voting hours while others, mostly in urban areas, did not.
"Treating election boards equally treats voters unequally and unfairly," said State Rep. Armond Budish, a Beachwood Democrat.
He pointed out that there are 1.4 million people in Cuyahoga County and only 15,000 in Morgan County yet voters in both counties have the same number of hours and polling locations to cast their ballots early.
Husted points out that everyone has the chance to vote absentee by mail, but State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) doesn't think that will be popular among younger voters. "Today's 18 to 20 year olds probably don't have much occasion to go to the Post Office."
Many boards of election decided to reduce the number of polling places in an effort to save money. That decision was based on the increasing popularity of early voting. Clyde thinks the recent changes eliminating weekend hours for early in-person voting could lead to longer lines on Election Day.
"It's a good thing Secretary Husted is not in charge of ODOT because we might have empty eight lane highways going through Garrettsville in my district and jammed two lane highways in downtown Cleveland," she said.
State Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard thinks this is more political than anything. She charged Husted's move to eliminate weekend in-person voting was intentionally done by Republicans to keep minorities from the polls.
"To suggest that this is anything but deliberate disenfranchisement of targeted populations that are not their constituents is a lie," she said.
Cincinnati Democratic State Rep. Alicia Reece is concerned that the large number of voters going to fewer polling places will lead to more poll worker errors, especially with provisional ballots.
"Statewide Ohio threw out 39,989 provisional ballots in 2008. These are people," she said.
Provisional ballots are cast when voters either cannot provide proof of who they are or show up at the wrong polling location.
Husted has said Ohioans will have more than 750 hours to vote absentee and 230 hours to vote in person in the 35 days before the election.
"Voting in Ohio is uniform, accessible, fair, and secure. This year with the combination of absentee ballots and in-person early voting, Ohioans will have more access to voting than ever before," he said in a statement. "The rules are set and are not going to change."