Barry M. Horstman reports:
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, seeking to quell growing national controversy over disparities that appeared to give Republicans a significant edge, today ordered all county boards of elections to use the same early voting hours this fall.
The move also means there will be no early voting on weekends.
Husted, a Republican who had cast four tie-breaking votes blocking extra night and evening voting hours in major urban areas that traditionally favor Democrats even as GOP-leaning counties extended their hours, ordered all 88 county election boards to offer extra weeknight hours in the weeks leading up to Nov. 6.
Under Husted’s order, election boards must remain open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the first three weeks after early voting starts Oct. 2, and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the final two weeks before the election.
Although some boards already had scheduled Saturday voting hours, Husted overruled that move, deciding that no weekend voting hours will be offered throughout Ohio. (A federal lawsuit in which President Barack Obama’s campaign is seeking to restore early voting during the final Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day could change that for at least that one weekend.)
The Enquirer reported today that the counties in which Husted’s tie-breaking votes prevented extra hours gave Obama a nearly 500,000-vote advantage in 2008, while those that expanded hours have Republican nominee John McCain a surplus of roughly 90,000 votes.