Ohio’s boards of elections, each made up of two Democrats and two Republicans, strike a bipartisan balance throughout their organizations. It follows then that the Ohio Association of Election Officials this week issued a carefully balanced report on some of the most controversial elections issues in the state.
The group’s recommendations, the result of the two parties coming together, arrived after two years of study. They were adopted by trustees on an 11-3 vote.
Tackling the highly contentious issue of early voting hours — one that ended up in federal court as Election Day approached last year — the association urged a shorter period for in-person absentee voting, from the current 35 days to 29 or 28 days, depending on the year.
That would eliminate the “Golden Week” during which Ohioans can register and cast an absentee ballot at the same time, long a source of friction between the two parties. The proposed change still would preserve plenty of time to vote early.
The report also recommended limited extended hours for early voting on weekdays and weekends in presidential years and some weekend hours in gubernatorial years. And it advised sending absentee ballot applications to all voters in general elections in both even- and odd-numbered years.
As the legislature takes up the task of elections reform, its members should pay close attention to the thrust of the report. No one plan is going to work for every elections board. What’s important is to find compromises that assure fair access to the polls and treat every Ohio voter the same way.