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Voting hours

Voting in Ohio didn’t used to be so complicated. Just show up on Election Day and vote.
Most people still do that, but about one-third now vote early, either by visiting a board of elections office or by absentee ballot.
Because of the convenience, early voting numbers are expected to increase.
But the hours and rules keep changing, making it hard for voters to keep up.
Fortunately, it appears they’re at least set for this year. We hope so.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted issued an order last week establishing uniform hours for “all future elections” in Ohio.
The order mandates specific hours for all four weeks of early voting across the state. Those hours include the Monday before Election Day and the Saturday and Sunday on the two weekends prior.
Husted’s order came in response to U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus’ decision earlier this month to restore certain early voting hours that Husted had eliminated back in February.
Surprisingly, Husted isn’t complaining about the ruling, and neither should Democrats or Republicans.
As the state’s chief election officer, Husted has long advocated for uniformity in election rules, including the hours when early voting can take place. In restoring some early voting hours, the judge struck down a 2012 Husted order that allowed only military veterans to vote in the last days before an election.
The judge said making an exception for vets was unconstitutional.
Republicans should be happy Economus’ ruling left intact a shortening of the early-voting period from 35 days to 28 days.
Democrats, who may still be upset about losing the so-called “golden week,” the period of time when a person could register and cast a vote at the same time, should remember the total number of voting days in Ohio is still more than in 32 other states.
When it comes to voting early, the national average is 19 days.
Ohioans clearly will have plenty of opportunities to vote again this year, with the number of hours almost the same as in 2012.
Husted has already received the Legislature’s approval to mail absentee-ballot applications to every registered voter.
Staffing boards of election offices, including the day before the busiest voting day of the year, may be a challenge for some counties, but Husted’s directive, which comes four months ahead of the Nov. 4 election, should give boards ample time to prepare.
Hopefully, the court decision and Husted’s action will quell any further legislative action, at least until after the election.
Voters don’t need the constant distraction over voting hours, and should be able to focus on what’s most important about any election: the issues and candidates.

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