The growing popularity of absentee voting has prompted many election boards in Ohio to discuss closing some polling places used to cast ballots in-person. In reality, of course, the driving force behind some boards' dedication to efficiency is saving money. Quite a few election boards are having a tough time making ends meet.
With the liberalization of absentee voting rules, it is much easier to cast ballots in person or by mail in advance of an election. Providing strict rules are in place to avoid vote fraud, we think that is an excellent development. It ought to be as easy as possible for qualified voters to exercise the franchise.
For many reasons - tradition among them - a substantial number of Ohioans still like to go to the polls on election day. Closing and/or consolidating polling places makes that more of a challenge for some.
Wholesale closing of polling places is not a good idea. Certainly, changing population factors make closing some lesser-user precincts appropriate - but shutting others down to save money should be done with great caution.
Yes, we understand money is a problem. But government continues to fund programs and projects that are of far less importance than elections. If an election board needs more funding to maintain an adequate number of polling places, so be it.
Polling places should not be closed if there is any indication doing so will inconvenience Ohioans - perhaps prompting some to decide voting just isn't worth the trouble of driving to a more distant precinct.