COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Gov. John Kasich vetoed a bill Friday that would have required a cash bond for people to get a court order to keep polling places open late on Election Day in the key swing state.
Kasich, a Republican, said he agrees with many of the bill requirements but its bond provision goes “a step too far.”
“Prohibiting state court judges from exercising their discretion to waive the bond requirement in only these types of cases is inequitable and might deter persons from seeking an injunction to allow after-hours voting when there may be a valid reason for doing so,” he said in his veto message.
The bill creates a process for state courts to follow when considering whether to grant a last-minute extension of voting hours. Such cases could stem from bad weather, voting equipment failures or other problems.
People seeking emergency relief from the court would have to pay a cash bond for the polls to remain open past their typical 7:30 p.m. close. The bond amount, determined by a judge, could be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
The bill’s supporters said it would restore order to elections, recalling problems in previous elections. But opponents, including Democrats and the League of Women Voters of Ohio, argued the legislation puts a price tag on the right to vote. They called on the governor to veto it.
The measure is the second stand-alone bill Kasich has vetoed since taking office in 2011, though he has struck provisions from state budgets.
Kasich said county judges should have a uniform process to follow when considering requests to keep the polls open. He said he looked forward to working with state lawmakers to make such changes.
“I also believe that the process this bill would create is sound and would prevent frivolous injunction requests from being granted,” Kasich said.
Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted had backed the legislation, but said he also thought the new bond requirement was unnecessary.
Last year, a state judge ordered polls in Cincinnati and surrounding Hamilton County to remain open for an extra 90 minutes, leading to a statewide delay in reporting results on a marijuana legalization ballot issue. The extension came after a few precincts reported problems getting voters their ballots because of poll workers’ unfamiliarity with a new electronic check-in system.
Hamilton County Board of Elections Director Sherry Poland told an Ohio House committee that the board had 40 minutes to notify 2,500 poll workers and others about the change. As a result, she said, some voters couldn’t vote because their polling locations didn’t get the notice of the extended hours.
In March, a federal judge ordered polls in four southwest Ohio counties, including Hamilton County, to stay open for an extra hour during the presidential primary election because of a traffic accident affecting the region.