Husted directive puts all counties, voters on an equal footing

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The November presidential election is still more than two months away, but things are beginning to percolate in Ohio.

Not only have Republican candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama been visiting our state, but now a directive has come down from Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's office to county boards of elections concerning early voting hours.

Husted has decided to make voting hours across Ohio uniform, thus eliminating the present practice of allowing boards of elections to set their own times. Husted said this puts everyone on an equal footing, and if there is one thing you want in an election, it's probably uniformity.

There is no weekend voting, but hours are extended on some days as late as 7 p.m., and on another until 9 p.m.

Naturally, Democrats are already complaining about the change, saying it will keep some people from voting. That assumption is hard to understand when you consider that the general election isn't until Nov. 6 and voters have a month to cast their ballots during an early voting period that begins on Oct. 2.

But the bickering over the state's election laws and practices is not surprising given that Ohio played such a crucial role in Republican George W. Bush's two close victories in 2000 and 2004.

In that regard, it's not hard to imagine that Husted's directive will result in a lawsuit from Democrats and/or their supporters, not to mention heaps of criticism. But their suggestion that the hours will somehow disenfranchise voters -- particularly in metropolitan areas -- doesn't stand up.

Husted is right in noting that voting is a responsibility and, as such, requires that voters undertake the bare minimum in exercising that right. Most voters somehow found it possible to make their choices years ago before early voting was instituted. So, it can easily be argued that voting is as easy as it's ever been, and the opportunities afforded voters are greater than ever before.

In addition, after Labor Day every voter in Ohio will be receiving an application for an absentee ballot in the mail. This certainly will do nothing to decrease voting opportunities.

Husted's early voting hours might not meet every conceivable contingency or need of every voter. But how can anyone seriously argue that voting is that difficult in Ohio?

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