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Decision Expected Today on Return Postage for Absentee Ballots


Monday, September 14, 2020   

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio voters might have one less step to take in order to cast an absentee ballot for the November election.

The Ohio Controlling Board is expected to vote today on Secretary of State Frank LaRose's request to use $3 million in funding from his office to pay for return ballot postage.

With the spread of coronavirus still a concern, Catherine Turcer, executive director of the voting-rights organization Common Cause Ohio, explained purchasing a stamp to return a ballot is a difficult task for some Ohioans.

"During a pandemic, where people are facing some significant challenges, it makes sense for the state to pick up the cost and encourage people to vote by mail," Turcer said.

LaRose asked the Ohio Controlling Board for approval to appropriate the money after state lawmakers failed to act on an earlier request. Ohio voters can request an absentee ballot right now, which if approved will be mailed out by boards of election on Oct. 6.

About 22% of registered Ohio voters cast ballots in the May primary, compared with the nearly 44% who voted in the 2016 presidential primary.

Turcer contends making voting by mail more accessible is crucial to ensuring every voter is able to cast a ballot this November.

"Which makes Election Day much safer and much easier to manage for election officials and poll workers who are going to have to be thinking about social distancing, PPE and all of the other challenges with this election," she said.

In 2016, 1.2 million Ohioans voted absentee. So far, more than 1 million absentee ballot requests have been submitted for November, a threshold that wasn't reached in 2016 until 28 days before Election Day.

This story was produced in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.

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