Our view: Leave early voting alone

DKS Editors

Scheduling Election Day for a Tuesday is a somewhat antiquated setup. Back when Congress instituted that law in 1845, its purpose was to allow farmers to rest on the Sabbath, spend Monday traveling by horse for voting on Tuesday and be home for market day on Wednesday.

Even if you didn’t know that, it’s clear that nowadays many people can’t leave work or school to wait in a long Election Day lines. Early voting exists now to increase participation and shorten lines.

So we don’t understand why Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is relentlessly trying to limit early voting. Husted’s plan was to end early voting the Friday prior to the election, with accommodations for military and overseas voters. His first attempt was struck down by a federal court, ruling that Ohio needed a compelling reason to change the rules, which it did not have.

We agree with the decision. Having weeks of early voting but suddenly disallowing it for the majority of Ohioans three days before the election serves no useful purpose.

But Husted has appealed the ruling anyway. While he has not offered a good reason to continue advocating this restriction, we do know that in Cleveland, African-American voters were 26 times more likely to vote early and in person in 2008 than were white voters. We also know that Franklin County Republican Party chairman and elections board member Doug Preisse told a reporter, “we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine.”

No matter what the rationale for these restrictions, we think early voting hours should be open as long as originally stated. Messing with the voting hours now would make the process far more confusing than it should be. Every Ohioan should have full and equal access to the polls. As an elected official, Husted should respect and embrace this useful aspect of our democracy and drop his appeal.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.