Same day, new problems

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Controversy has surrounded what seems to be an anomaly in Ohio's electoral system, and the state's two major parties are split over whether elections regulator should allow it.

The process is known as same-day voting, which will be available between Sept. 30 (the first day of absentee voting) and Oct. 6 (the deadline to register). During this window, a voter can register and - on the same day - get a mail-in absentee ballot.

Those who register at a county board of elections can then vote in-person absentee on a voting machine, just as they would Nov. 4, said Jeff Ortega, spokesman for the Ohio Secretary of State's office. Absentee votes won't be tabulated until after polls close on Election Day.

The overlap has existed since the 2006 primary, but this election is first in which issues about it have been raised, according to a directive issued by Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to county elections boards.

Brunner has told boards to develop procedures for same-day voting but instructed precinct officials to delay the process if an application appears invalid.

Ohio Republicans are calling foul.

Statewide GOP officials earlier told The Columbus Dispatch that this procedure increases opportunity for fraud and point to a state statute that allows only electors registered for 30 days to request absentee ballots. Recently, the GOP asked Brunner to revoke her directive to elections boards, but she denied the request.

Meanwhile, local Democrats hoping to attract college students and other first-time voters are planning to capitalize on the five-day overlap.

Palin Comparison

A look at Republican presidential candidate John McCain's VP pick

Name: Sarah Palin

Home: Wasilla, Alaska

Age: 44

Education: B.A., University of Idaho

Political experience: Governor, Alaska, 2006-present; Mayor, Wasilla (Alaska), 1996-2002; Wasilla City Council, 1992-1996

Why she was chosen: Her anti-corruption reputation as mayor and governor reinforces McCain's maverick image. Her relative youth could temper concerns about McCain's age. She offers executive experience, including work with statewide energy policy.