What you need to know about Ohio Politics and Policy
· October 3, 2011
With HB194 petition filing, early voting begins tomorrow
On Thursday, Fair Elections Ohio submitted 318,460 signatures to repeal HB 194, more than needed to put the bill on the November 2012 ballot if enough are determined to be valid. While Ohio voters will not get to weigh in on the bill for another 13 months, the filing of signatures has the immediate impact of putting HB 194’s changes to Ohio’s election laws on hold, just in time for the upcoming November election.
What does this mean? Among other things, it allows absentee and in-person early voting to begin 35 days prior to an election, as is currently the law in Ohio. The bill would have shortened the window to 21 days for mail-in ballots and 17 days for in-person voting. Furthermore, Counties will be allowed to offer in-person absentee voting on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday prior to the election — HB 194 prohibits early voting on those days, typically the most popular.
In the past, early voting has shown great success. In 2008, in Franklin County, 45% percent of the electorate voted before Election Day. This gives voters more flexibility when work or other demands prevent them from making it to the polls on election day, and minimizes the confusion that can occur when there is large turnout, such as happened in some larger counties in 2004. Early voting has also been shown to increase voter turnout, allowing more citizens to participate in the democratic process.
Each County board of election will set their own early voting hours. To learn more, contact information for all 88 county boards of election can be found here.