COLUMBUS – Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is requesting the authority from the Ohio Controlling Board to use funds from the Business Services Division fund within the Secretary’s office to pay for postage on all absentee ballots.
In May, following the Ohio primary, Secretary of State Frank LaRose made a number of recommendations to the Ohio General Assembly that required legislative action to ensure a successful General Election. Among those was the utilization of state GRF funding to pay for the postage on absentee ballots. While no action was taken on that proposal, Secretary LaRose has subsequently stated his support for utilizing any potential forthcoming additional federal funding to pay for postage, pending authorization from the Ohio Controlling Board. While Washington continues to debate providing that additional funding to states, Secretary LaRose is moving forward with this proposal to ensure postage is paid for all Ohioans choosing to vote by absentee.
“If the controlling board approves our request, they will effectively be making every mailbox a drop box for millions of Ohioans, making it easier than ever to cast a ballot in a general election,” said LaRose. “No state GRF or federal funds will be used to pay for it; instead, we’re ready to take it out of my office’s own budget to get it done.”
The request being made to the Ohio Controlling Board asks for up to $3 million in funds from the Secretary of State’s Fund 5990, the fund where revenue from the Business Services Division within the Secretary’s office is located. In 2016, 1.2 million Ohioans cast their absentee ballot by mail. Secretary LaRose has told Ohio’s county boards of elections to prepare for that number to double. While costs of the delivery of absentee mail vary by county, total costs of postage are not expected to exceed $2 million.
The Ohio Controlling Board provides legislative oversight over certain capital and operating expenditures by state agencies. It consists of seven members: the Director of the Office of Budget and Management or an employee of the Office of Budget and Management designated by the Director, the Chairs of the Senate and House Finance Committees, a majority member appointed from both the Senate and the House, and a minority member appointed from both the Senate and the House.