Voting Rights Group Wants More Opportunities for Early Voting this Year

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — 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.

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.