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Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Banter aplenty about in-person absentee voting

There surely has been a lot of attention and partisan discussion regarding Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s recent directive to ensure in-person absentee voting is uniform for each of the state’s 88 counties.

Two Democratic Montgomery County Elections Board members were recently suspended by Husted because they failed to vote to implement his directive.

Critics say part of what Husted has done is aimed to suppress voting by making it tougher for some people to cast a ballot because there no longer will be in-person absentee voting on weekends or the Monday before the Nov. 6 election.

Some point to voting on the weekend and Monday before the election as a key in 2008 for President Barack Obama to win Ohio, and they say Husted, a Republican, wants to eliminate that.

Husted’s directive did extend weekday hours, when voters can cast a absentee ballot in-person at a county elections board.

He dismisses talk of voter suppression and says voting starts 35 days before the election and there are more than 750 hours to vote by mail and 230 hours to vote in person, plus 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.

For the first time, the state of Ohio also will mail out absentee ballot applications to all registered voters for the Nov. 6 election.

That means if people are too busy working, or otherwise, or just don’t want to vote in person, then they can complete the application and mail it back or drop it off to their county election board, which will then mail back or give an absentee ballot to the voter to complete.

Once finished, the voter can then mail back or drop off a ballot to their election board prior to election day.
With all the enthusiasm in 2008 across Ohio regarding the presidential election one would think there was a large increase in voting turnout percentage compared to similar elections.

Plus, the Ohio General Assembly also approved no-fault absentee voting in 2005 across the state, which meant voters in 2008 no longer needed to provide a reason to cast an absentee ballot.

It turns out that in Ohio the voter turnout percentage for the 2008 presidential election was 2.14 percent lower than it was in 2004 before no-fault absentee voting was allowed. In 2008, the statewide percentage was 69.63, down from 71.77 percent in 2004.

The 2008 presidential election also ranked sixth in voter turnout percentage out of the eight presidential elections in Ohio since 1980.

Those elections generated turnout percentages of 63.73 percent (2000), 67.83 (1996), 77.15 (1992), 71.79 (1988), 73.65 (1984), and 73.87 (1980).

Hard numbers show in November 2008 that there were 5,773,387 out of 8,291,239 registered voters in Ohio who cast a ballot; 5,722,443 of 7,972,826 registered voters did in November 2004.

The data also shows the same pattern held true in Lake, Geauga and Cuyahoga counties.

In 2008, the voter turnout in Lake County was 122,793, or 76.44 percent, down slightly from 122,862, or 76.69 percent, in 2004. In Geauga County, the voter turnout was 51,674, or 77.45 percent, in 2008 compared to 51,059, or 78.00 percent, in 2004.

In Cuyahoga County, voter turnout was 672,750, or 61 percent, in 2008, down from 687,260, or 68 percent, in 2004.

Do claims of potential voter suppression really have merit? I’m not sure they really do, at least in this part of the state.

Candidate forums

n The Lake County TEA Party announced it will conduct a candidates forum for Ohio’s 14th Congressional District with Republican nominee David Joyce and Democratic nominee Dale Blanchard at 7 p.m. Sept. 11 at Harvey High School in Painesville.


n Fourth annual Labor Day Picnic for Wickliffe Mayor Bill Margalis, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday at Wickliffe Italian American Club Picnic Pavalion. See Sue Margalis.

n Fundraiser for state Rep. Casey Kozlowski, candidate for Ohio House of Representatives District 99, 4 to 7 p.m. Sept. 8 at the home of Tom and Melissa Pope in Saybrook Township. See Kozlowski.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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