The following press release arrived via email:
Report Highlights Unexpected Results and Unequal Access to Early Voting in the 2012 Presidential Election Compared to 2008
Advocates call on Ohio Legislature to change election rules to provide for diversity
A team led by Norman Robbins, Research Director, Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates, today reported unexpected results on early in-person voting in the 2012 Presidential election, highlighting both important similarities and important differences between Ohio’s counties, which should be considered in new legislation.
The study found that early in-person voting was almost equally popular in smaller rural and larger urban counties (counties with less than or greater than 100,000 total votes cast, respectively). This happened because smaller counties increased early voting by 33% from 2008 to 2012. Clearly, early in-person voting in Ohio is popular and here to stay.
Not all news was good. During the last and only weekend of early voting in 2012, in-person voters had to wait 1 to 4 hours in most larger counties but less than a half hour in smaller counties. “This issue of unequal access for voters in different sized counties because of inflexible rules demands legislative correction”, Robbins said.
Another unexpected finding was that despite the mailing of applications for vote-by-mail ballots to all active voters in the state, mail-in ballots as a percent of the total vote increased by only about 1% over that in 2008 (when only a few counties sent voters such applications). Some counties, however, saw a modest increase in voting by mail, and may have benefited from sending the applications.
There was considerable fall-off in vote-by-mail and especially in early in-person voting in non-Presidential elections (2009-2011) compared to the Presidential elections of 2008 and 2012.
In order to provide equal access to early voting, to respect differences in voting patterns and resources in different counties, and to acknowledge different turnout in Presidential and non-Presidential elections, future legislation will need “uniform” formulas rather than inflexible “uniform” rules to provide for Ohio’s diversity (as discussed in the report).