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Election changes clear Ohio House

| Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 9:15 p.m.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Proposals to trim early voting and set rules for mailing unsolicited absentee ballot applications were approved by the Ohio House on Wednesday amid partisan rancor in the presidential battleground state.

Ohioans can cast an absentee ballot by mail or in person without giving any reason. Early voting starts 35 days prior to Election Day.

One bill would cut that time by eliminating so-called golden week — a period when residents can both register to vote and cast an early ballot. Without those days, early voting would then typically start 29 days before Election Day.

More than 59,000 voters cast early, in-person ballots during golden week in the 2012 presidential election, according to estimates from the secretary of state. That number does not include residents who voted by mail, though about 1.1 million had requested absentee ballots to do so that week.

Supporters say same-day registration and voting doesn't give boards of elections enough time to properly verify registration applications.

Democrats argued the state should not focus on rolling back early voting opportunities but rather expanding them. They accused majority Republicans of making it more difficult to vote.

“This is a good bill,” said state Rep. Andy Brenner, a Powell Republican. “There's no voter suppression, it's common sense.”

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