By Marc Kovac
The Ohio conference of the NAACP has asked a federal judge to force longer early-voting hours for the November general election.
The group is hoping U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus, who earlier ordered Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted to allow early voting on the final Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day, will provide additional Sunday and weekday and evening hours.
Judge Economus is a Mahoning Valley native.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also wants the judge to restore Ohio’s “golden week,” the former period of time that allowed people to register and cast ballots the same day.
Lawmakers eliminated golden week earlier this year.
“The remaining cutbacks still appear designed to ensure that only those who can afford to take unpaid time off of work or easily make child-care arrangements can cast a ballot in person during the early voting period,” the NAACP wrote this week in its new motion for a preliminary injunction. “The state cannot justify such sweeping restrictions on the right to vote.”
Last month, Husted announced that early voting for the general election would be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the final two Saturdays before Election Day. Under Judge Economus’ order, he also added 1 to 5 p.m. on the final Sunday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the final Monday before the election.
Those hours will be in place for presidential primary elections and gubernatorial general elections, with slightly different hours on a couple of days for presidential general elections, regular municipal elections, other primaries and special elections.
Husted said at the time that he considered the matter settled. “When it comes to voting early, the national average is 19 days,” he said. “This November, Ohioans will be able to vote in person, including on weekends, starting 28 days before the election. Additionally, I will be sending all registered voters an application to vote by mail so they have four weeks to vote without ever having to leave home. I know of no other state that goes to this great of lengths to encourage voters to cast ballots before Election Day.”
But in its filing in federal court this week, the NAACP argued that Husted still has not provided sufficient opportunity for early voting.