In a stunt sure to sour already strained relations at the Summit County Board of Elections, Democratic members voted this week to extend early voting hours to include the three days before Election Day. The move by Wayne Jones and Tim Gorbach was a meaningless show, made possible by the absence of Alex Arshinkoff, the Summit County Republican Party chairman, who is recovering from a car accident.
That left an opening for Democrats, provided the other Republican on the board, Ray Weber, was in attendance for the needed quorum. Jones, the chairman of the Summit County Democratic Party, indicated he had been chafing under Republican control, a reference to Jon Husted, the secretary of state. By law, the secretary is the fifth member of every board in the state, each made up of two Republicans and two Democrats.
There are conflicting opinions about whether Weber’s exit from the meeting left Jones and Gorbach without a quorum. The bottom line? It doesn’t matter.
As Jones and Gorbach know well, the matter of early voting just before Election Day is the subject of a federal lawsuit filed by the Obama campaign. A federal judge has ruled in favor of the campaign, overturning Republican-backed legislation to end early, in-person voting the Friday before Election Day. But the matter remains under appeal, and Husted has not set uniform hours.
Into the gap leaped Jones and Gorbach. Their votes will be moot as soon as the federal courts rule. If early voting is allowed, as it should be, then Husted will issue a directive on hours, as he has in similar situations.
Husted has not sided with Republicans on every tie vote at elections boards (Summit having the most ties in the state). With their move, Jones and Gorbach have succeeded merely in inviting retaliation and running the risk of a board unable to act in Arshinkoff’s absence should Weber choose to avoid entirely future meetings.