COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- Ohio voters will get two Saturdays and no Sundays to vote early in the statewide election this fall under a schedule set by the state's elections chief.
Secretary of State Jon Husted announced the times on Tuesday. The Republican says his directive reflects a proposal from the bipartisan Ohio Association of Election Officials.
"They plan that I announced today was actually not my own, it was created by the Republicans and Democrats that run elections at the local level," he said.
Early voting starts 29 days before Election Day. Early voting centers will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the two Saturdays before the election. There will be no Sunday or evening voting which is a change from previous years.
"Early voting centers really weren't designed as a place where everybody went to vote, those were designed as a last option," he said.
Voters can vote absentee by mail for four weeks leading up to the election. Each registered voter will get an absentee ballot application mailed to them.
Husted has asked state lawmakers for the past three years to put the hours and days for early voting into law. The legislature has not adopted any plan.
"Equality and fairness is about giving every voter the same access to the polls and that's what we do with this proposal," he said.
Polls will also be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.
Husted's opponent in the November election issued a statement blasting the move saying that one-size-fits-all solutions don't work. Sen. Nina Turner, a Cleveland Democrat, notes the largest county is 95-times the size of the smallest in Ohio. She thinks local elections officials need the flexibility to craft a system that works for their voters.
"There is no justification for arbitrarily denying the vast majority of Ohio voters’ access to open polling places. The courts have previously spoken on this, but once again, our current Secretary of State is ignoring justice. It is a shame that the Secretary would not have committed his office's energy instead to implementing the outstanding court orders and administering the orderly and effective early voting process that has served Ohio voters so well since 2005. As Secretary of State, I will work to expand the voice of working families, not limit it."
Husted said he doesn't think there should be different rules for different Ohioans.
"Why should Mary Smith in one county have longer to vote than Mary Smith in another county?"