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Ohio’s Republican-led House recently passed a set of voting regulations that overhaul the state’s elections system. The proposed changes in House Bill 194 include allowing voters to change their address online, requiring people casting provisional ballot to provide additional forms of identity, eliminating the requirement that poll workers direct voters in the wrong precinct to the correct one and prohibiting elections boards from mailing absentee ballots to voters.
Among the controversial changes are new limits on early voting, which Democrats say amount to voter suppression. Republicans say the state needs more uniform voting regulations and less costly ways to manage elections.
Under the bill, voting by mail is cut to 21 days before an election, from 35 now. And in-person voting would be restricted to 10 days before an election.
This last point was one of several Democratic House Leader Armond Budish of Beachwood, railed against in a news release on May 18, the day the bill passed along party lines.
"Changes in House Bill 194 that make it more difficult to participate in Ohio elections include reducing in-person early voting from 35 days to 6," he said.
PolitiFact Ohio wondered how Budish came up with six days, given that the bill says 10 days.
Specifically the House Bill 194 reads: "For all voters who are applying to vote absent voter’s ballots in person, ballots shall be printed and ready for use beginning on the tenth day before the day of the election."
So how does Budish come up with 6 days?
His chief of staff, Keary McCarthy, said pay close attention to the bill’s language.
The bill goes on to say that in-person voting is prohibited on Sundays and must end the Friday before Election Day. Applying these restrictions to the 10 day-period, four days become off limits to voters: The first and last Sunday in the period and the Saturday and Monday immediately preceding Election Day.
The Ohio Senate, also controlled by Republicans, passed Senate Bill 148 that also makes significant changes to the election laws and processes. It mirrors the House Bill in many ways but offers some differences, which will be worked out in coming days among Republican leaders representing both chambers.
One of the differences between the two bills concerns in-person voting. The Senate’s version calls for in-person voting to begin 16 days before Election Day. But this window is also squeezed by prohibiting voting on Sundays and on the Saturday and Monday before Election Day. It also requires elections boards to close Saturday voting at noon. The House version allows for voting until 6 p.m.
Applying these restrictions, the Senate bill takes away five days, leaving 11 days for in-person voting.
Returning to the House bill and Budish’s assessment, his statement is accurate and there’s nothing significant missing. On the Truth-O-Meter, Politifact Ohio rates his claim True.
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