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It may be convenient, but early voting could be costly

July 22, 2012
Morning Journal News

"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink," as the old saying goes. By the same token you can make voting extremely easy but many people will still not vote.

Early voting and easier absentee voting have been tried in Ohio in recent years as efforts to increase voter turnout, with limited results.

Nationwide only 64 percent of those eligible voted in the 2008 presidential election, despite numerous efforts to make the process easy.

Now the state wants the Columbiana County Board of Elections to spend $32,000 to mail out absentee ballots to prospective voters who request them.

Columbiana County Elections Board Director Adam Booth says Ohio's secretary of state will be mailing out absentee voting applications in early September to all 6 million-plus Buckeye State voters, and officials expect as many as 50 percent to choose this option.

If this 50 percent participation prediction holds true, it would cost the elections board about $32,000 based on 2008 voting levels. There were nearly 50,000 countians who voted in the 2008 presidential election, and Booth said the postage alone for mailing out an absentee ballot is $1.30 per envelope.

While Booth does not believe 25,000 county residents will choose the vote-by-mail option, he said it will still prove costly if the number who decide to do so doubles from November 2008 general election, when a record 7,851 absentee ballots were cast.

The additional expense comes at a time when county commissioners cut funding for nearly every county department budget by 5 percent due to an anticipated decline in revenue and rising expenses. The elections board was appropriated $546,000 this year - $30,000 less than 2011 - and Booth said they are already on track to run out of money by the Nov. 6 general election because presidential election years are more expensive.

The bottom line is how much should government be willing to spend to do things for people that they should be able to do for themselves? And, do we really want people who are too stupid and lazy to get out and vote or get an absentee ballot deciding important issues?

Keeping polls open for long hours on Election Day and making absentee ballots available for those who truly need them should be enough to encourage those who really want to vote to do so. Let's stop leading the rest of the slackers around by the hand.



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