Ohio House Democrats Call for Statewide Mail-In Voting, Eliminating Application for Absentee Ballot

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Ohio House Democrats want to mail a ballot to every voter in the state and skip the “confusing application step,” according to an election proposal put forward Friday.

“Our members have worked intensely over the last several months pushing for improvements in the primary election and now proposing needed fixes to ensure a fall election that goes much more smoothly than the primary,” House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) (pictured above) said in a statement.

“I am proud of the work they’ve done to provide for a safe and accessible election. No one should have to choose between their fundamental right to vote and their health and safety. We can and must protect both,” she added.

Democrats said their proposal for the November general election was created by a House working group and will be introduced as a bill.

The plan calls for sending a mail-in ballot to every registered voter in the state with return postage prepaid. The Democratic proposal wants to get rid of the “confusing application step” for mail-in voting that “caused delays and deprived people of their voting rights in the primary.”

Alternatively, if ballot applications continue to be required for mail-in voting, Democrats would like to send an application to every registered voter and allow voters to apply online.

“During this pandemic we have a duty to protect Ohioans’ rights. We can protect people’s health and their liberty. It is not either/or. We have put together a proposal that balances trusted voting methods for all Ohio voters. By expanding and improving absentee mail voting, we will help people stay safe when they vote while also taking pressure off the in-person polling places that many people still rely on,” said Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo).

The proposal further calls for accepting ballots that are postmarked by Election Day. Current law requires absentee ballots to be postmarked by the day before the election, which is a “source of great confusion and misinformation,” according to House Democrats.

Another measure would allow counties to set up “multiple secure drop-boxes” in the community for voters to “drop off their mail ballots in person.”

“Allow voters to have a trusted helper deliver their ballots to their boards of election. Current law only permits certain family members to return ballots for someone but excludes grandchildren, cousins, roommates, and friends of the voter’s choosing,” the proposal continues.

The proposal concludes by calling on Secretary of State Frank LaRose to reinstate voters who have been purged from Ohio’s voter rolls if they still live in the state, implement automatic voter registration, and create an online portal for requesting absentee ballots.

“Ohioans cannot afford a repeat of the chaos and uncertainty that surrounded the March 17 election and the unconstitutional attempt to move it to June 2 with only minimal voter outreach,” said Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland). “This plan ensures that election workers will have clear and definitive directions as well as ample time and resources to prepare for the general election in November. We must act now to preserve Ohioans’ right to vote in the face of a global pandemic. Elections are too important not to have bipartisan input and decisive action”

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].







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