COLUMBUS—Ohio voters will gain greater access to the ballot in a settlement announced today by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Ohio. The agreement with Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted stems from a federal lawsuit filed last year by the ACLU that challenged Ohio's attempt to slash early voting opportunities.
Under the agreement, Ohioans will be allowed to vote on multiple Sundays leading up to a presidential election, and their access to additional evening voting hours will be restored for all elections. Additionally, boards of elections will have the same hours statewide. The agreement will go into effect after the May primary and will continue through 2018.
"Ohioans are the winners here,” said Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio. “Thousands rely on early voting opportunities to cast a ballot in an election. This settlement restores Sunday and evening hours in all 88 counties, meaning more voters will have a better chance to actually vote.”
Specifically, new early voting opportunities include:
- For the upcoming presidential general election, an additional Sunday will be added during the third week of voting. Boards of elections will be open from 1 to 5 p.m.
- For the presidential primary election and general elections, there will be expanded weekday evening hours during the fourth week of voting. Instead of regular business hours, boards of elections now will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- For regular municipal elections, primary elections and special elections, hours have been expanded during the fourth week of voting for weekdays, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on the Saturday before the election, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
According to Levenson, early voting is important to people with disabilities, inflexible work schedules, or other responsibilities, such as childcare, that make it difficult or even impossible to get to the board of elections during regular business hours.
The ACLU filed the legal challenge on behalf of the Ohio Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and other African-American churches.
The complaint, NAACP v. Husted, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division.