YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio- Several Democratic state senators spent Monday night outside their local boards of elections, including Mahoning County, to encourage early voting in the November 6th election.
State Senator Joe Schiavoni and Democratic activists held a "Sleep Out the Vote" event and planned to vote for President Obama Tuesday when early voting begins at 8:00 a.m.
Democratic leaders say it's also an effort to curb what they claim is voter suppression through Republican sponsored changes to voting laws. A charge denied by Republicans.
"You know I'm not here to advocate to vote for one side or the other, just to get out and vote," Schiavoni said.
Dave Betras, Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman, said "And there're a lot of people that work 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and can't come and vote in person and a lot of people like to do in person voting. So we should make it as accessible as possible. The last weekend, a federal judge ordered elections to be opened."
The last two weeks before the election the board of elections will be open until 7:00 p.m.
There are no early voting hours on weekends, but a judge did order early voting to be restored the last three days before the election which includes the last weekend. Secretary of State Jon Husted is appealing the decision. The Mahoning County Board of Elections is waiting to hear what the hours will be if any that weekend.
A spokesman for Husted has said there is ample time to vote because they've been sending out absentee ballot applications to all registered voters and extending hours during the week instead of opening on weekends after talking with election officials.
Mitt Romney's campaign will hold early voting kick-off events in many of these same counties Tuesday morning. A Commit to Mitt early voting kick-off event is scheduled in Boardman for 7:30 a.m. at the Republican Party's headquarters on Route 224.