U.S. District Judge Peter Economus' ruling to block an Ohio law that would roll back early voting will cost Highland County an additional $11,000, according to Highland County Board of Elections board member Kay Ayres.

Ayres said that the ruling is "a shame."

"I'm really disappointed," Ayres said. "The additional hours are going to cost our county $11,000 more. Is it worth it?"

Per Ohio Secretary of State Directive 2014-17, issued June 17, all Ohio Boards of Elections are required to observe extended office hours for early, in-office and absentee voting.

The following hours have been scheduled by the Highland County Board of Elections: Oct. 7-17, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Oct. 20-Nov. 1, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; Nov. 2-3, Sunday 1-5 p.m. and Monday 8 a.m. - 2 p.m.

As reported by The Associated Press, Judge Economus ordered Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to set additional voting times just ahead of the fall election.

"I think that we had one of the most generous policies as far as absentee and in-office voting in the country," Ayres said. "I just don't understand why we have to do this, and it's such a waste of money."

Ayres also said that the small staff of the Highland County board office will be overworked this fall.

"I don't think they understood how much $11,000 means to a county like Highland County, plus the wear and tear on our office," Ayres said. "It's just unnecessary."

 

The ruling followed litigation filed by civil rights groups.

"The plaintiffs claimed the new rules would make it difficult for residents to vote and disproportionately affect low-income and black voters, who, the groups say, are more likely to use the weekend and evening hours to vote early in elections," the AP reported.

The state countered that the groups couldn't prove the rules illegally placed an undue burden on voters.
 
"State attorneys said the changes would cut costs for local elections boards and help prevent fraud because same-day registration and voting doesn't give boards enough time to properly verify registration applications," the AP reported.

The general election is scheduled for Nov. 4. Highland County Board of Elections Director Debbie Craycraft confirmed that no write-in candidates filed before the Aug. 31 deadline.

There is only one contested local race on the November ballot, as Jeff Duncan (R) and Randy Mustard (D) are running for Highland County commissioner.

Unopposed local candidates include Bill Fawley for Highland County auditor, Donnie Barrera for Highland County sheriff, Judge Rocky Coss for Highland County Common Pleas Court Judge and Judge Kevin Greer for Highland County Juvenile and Probate Court Judge.

State races include governor, attorney general, state auditor, secretary of state and state treasurer. Incumbent Brad Wenstrup (R) will face Marek Tyszkiewicz (D) in the race for the 2nd Congressional District, while Senator Bob Peterson (R) and State Representative Cliff Rosenberger (R) are running unopposed.

Six local issues are also on the ballot. Voters will be considering a proposed income tax of one percent for individuals in the Bright Local School District; a proposed bond issue and tax levy for individuals in the Miami Trace Local School District; a proposed replacement tax levy for the benefit of the Southern Highland Joint Fire District; a proposed tax levy renewal for the Highland County General Health District; a proposed tax levy for the Village of Lynchburg; and a proposed tax levy renewal for Brushcreek Township.