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Voting Rights Group Wants More Opportunities For Early Voting This Year

A voter walks into the Franklin County Board of Elections in Columbus to cast a provisional ballot on April 28, the last day of the extended March 17 primary.
A voter walks into the Franklin County Board of Elections in Columbus to cast a provisional ballot on April 28, the last day of the extended March 17 primary.

Ohio’s secretary of state says an election day with in-person voting is still the plan for this fall, but he’s suggesting some changes in case concerns about coronavirus keep voters away.  A key voting rights group agrees, but wants to go further.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose is suggesting online absentee ballot requests with an earlier deadline, and that the state pay the postage for both those requests and to return those ballots.

Jen Miller at the League of Women Voters of Ohio agreed that in-person voting must be preserved if possible, but also would like more than one early voting location per county.

“I also think a way to reduce lines and therefore the crowds on election day would be to improve the vote by mail process, to really incentivize vote by mail, but also to increase opportunities to vote early," Miller said.

Miller and LaRose both say lessons can be learned from last week’s primary, and that they can be applied to both the August special election and the November general election.

On that note, LaRose wrote a letter to three House Democrats, saying that only provisional ballots from those who applied for absentee ballots but didn’t get them will be counted. Miller is concerned about that.

“The bottom line with this entire primary is that it was so complicated, so cumbersome for both voters and boards of elections alike that we know there will be voters that will be left out of the system or gave up," Miller said.

Voting Rights Group Wants More Opportunities For Early Voting This Year

Voters across the state reported they hadn't received their requested absentee ballots, leading LaRose and Ohio's Congressional delegation to request the U.S. Postal Service speed up delivery of those ballots. LaRose ended up announcing that those absentee voters who hadn't received ballots could cast ballots in person at boards of elections on April 28, along with people with disabilities and homeless Ohioans.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.
Karen Kasler
Contact Karen at 614/578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.