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Ohio federal judge extends days for early voting

By Molly Carroll
On September 13, 2012

A federal judge in Columbus, Peter Economus of the Southern District Court of Ohio, ordered that the state of Ohio extend the early voting availability in the state an extra three days.

The decision to extend voting days has been appealed by Ohio's Attorney General Mike DeWine.

The appeal is currently under review, according to Alexis Zoldan, deputy press secretary at the Secretary of the State's office.

Friday, Nov. 2 was supposed to be the last day that voters could cast their early ballot but now there is a strong possibility the early voting dates could be extended to Nov. 3, 4 and 5.

The fact that Nov. 3 and 4 are weekend days has created another debate, according to Lynn Kinkaid, the director of the Butler County Elections.

DeWine commented on Aug. 31 in an address to his staff and public on why he wishes to appeal the decision. DeWine's said that there will already be a great deal of time for voters to cast their absentee ballot, exactly 35 extra days in advance will be set for absentee voting.

According to Zoldan, for the first time the secretary of state will send out mail in ballots to every registered voter in Ohio.

Attorney General DeWine also said that his job is to defend the state of Ohio's rights to set its own hours of election and time of election.

John Husted, Ohio's Secretary of State, sent out an email informing voters that voting times on the three disputed days will not be announced until after a decision is made on the appeal.

In the email, Husted said that announcing new hours for voting before a verdict is reached would only confuse voters.

Husted sent out an early voting form Sept. 4 to every registered voter so that people could have the option to vote through the mail as well.

Zoldan reported that the amount of days that absentee voters would have to vote in this election compared to the 2008 election has been cut back.

However, the amount of actual hours elected for absentee voting has been increased by 230 extra hours in comparison to the last election due to extended time that the polls will be open. On top of that people would have an extra 750 hours to vote due to the mail in ballots.

According to both the Zoldan and Kinkaid, the mail-in ballots and new early voting days will increase voter participation in Ohio.

"More people will vote because of these extended voting hours," Kinkaid said. "In the past elections we did not have these forms go out, so it should increase voter participation."

In Butler County, along with the rest of Ohio, the times people will be able to cast their absentee ballots are uniform, Zoldan said.

People can cast their ballots 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 2-5, 9-2, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 15-19 and 22-26, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 29-Nov. 1 and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 2.

First-year Alisha Wilk said she thinks these early voting days will increase the participation of voters and that it is unnecessary.

"Extending the hours and dates for voting should be enough," Wilk said. "We should not also have to keep polls open on weekends for the extra three days, because they have already allotted enough time for extra absentee voting."

There has still not been a final decision regarding DeWine's appeal about extending the three early voting days. Until there is a decision, Nov. 2 still stands as the last day to cast an absentee ballot in Ohio.

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