COLUMBUS – On July 24th, CBS News aired a 7-minute segment about one of the biggest challenges facing Ohio’s absentee ballot system and absentee voting across the country – the length of time it takes for voters to get their mail. The piece, seen by clicking here, highlights mail system delays and the potential impact on voters attempting to vote by absentee ballot this fall.
Unfortunately, current Ohio law states that voters have until just three days before the election to submit their absentee ballot request to their county board of elections. That window of time between requesting an absentee ballot and election day is logistically impossible, creates a likelihood that voters will not receive their ballot on time, and encourages procrastination. The primary election clearly demonstrated that the United States Postal Service and our County Boards of Elections require more time between the deadline and election day in order to ensure every voter who requests a ballot can get one. In fact, the postal service has gone on record stating “…voters should mail their return ballots at least one week before the due date…”.
Upon completion of the March primary, Secretary LaRose recommended a package of reforms that included expanding the deadline to seven days before election day from three days. Though some of these reforms are still pending in the legislature, HB 680 takes an important step by creating that seven-day window which is close enough to election day while still providing enough time for mail delivery.
“State law shouldn’t create a false expectation that leads to disenfranchisement, so let’s expand the absentee request deadline and give our postal workers the time they need to get absentee ballots delivered,” said LaRose. “It is important that the Ohio legislature get this bill passed now so all Ohioans can be sure their voice is heard this November.”
In addition to this important fix, LaRose continues to strongly encourage the legislature to quickly pass the other reforms he recommended earlier this year to help Ohio’s absentee process run well this fall when a record number of Ohioans are expected to use it. Click here to read about other recommendations made by Secretary LaRose.
In order to mitigate the challenges of mail delivery delays, Secretary LaRose has taken the following steps:
- Working with the United States Postal Service’s Deputy Postmaster on implementing significant improvements to the delivery of election related mail. Learn more by clicking here.
- Recommended legislation to allow for the expansion of the absentee request deadline to seven days before election day as prescribed in HB 680, online absentee ballot requests and postage paid for absentee ballots.
- Provided guidance to county boards of election for proper security and surveillance of drop boxes at county boards of elections to allow for 24/7 drop off of election mail.
- Educating the public about returning the absentee ballot request and then the ballot as soon as possible, including language in the absentee ballot request forms being mailed to every voter recommending they submit their request form at least seven days prior to election day. We must make it clear to every Ohio voter that absentee voting is secure and reliable but procrastination is not acceptable.