‘Alarming’ mailers question status of voter ballots, prompt calls

Some Dayton-area boards of election have received a high volume of phone calls about mailers like this. NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF
Some Dayton-area boards of election have received a high volume of phone calls about mailers like this. NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF

Credit: NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF

Credit: NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF

At least one Dayton-area board of elections has been busy with phone calls from voters receiving what one official called “alarming” mailers stating their absentee ballots have not been returned.

Warren County elections officials said the mailers have generated an unusual amount of calls in recent days from voters concerned about that the status of their ballots.

“We’re getting a lot phone calls about this,” Warren County Board of Elections Director Brian Sleeth said.

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The mailer calls come at a time when election workers are already dealing with more activity due to early voting and mail-in ballots because of COVID-19, officials said.

Sleeth said Friday workers in his office were not tracking how many calls, “but every time I walk by staff I hear them talking to voters about the card.”

While Montgomery County Board of Elections Director Jan Kelly said Tuesday that her office has not received “a voluminous amount” of phone inquiries about the mailers, she called it “an alarming tactic.”

Calls about the mailers have also come into the Miami County Board of Elections, according to Director Laura Bruns. Messages left Tuesday with elections officials in Greene County were not returned.

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A mailer showing it was paid for by the Ohio Republican Party states “VOTER ALERT: Public records indicate you have not yet returned your absentee ballot.”

The mailer also reads “Your official absentee ballot status” is “NOT RETURNED.”

Sleeth said he has heard only about calls regarding that mailer, “but there could be other groups involved.”

Attempts to reach the state Republican Party Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Both Bruns and Sleeth said the mailer calls apparently began last week. Sleeth said “from what I’m hearing, it seems like it’s really picked up since the first of (the) week, especially” Friday.

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Officials are encouraging those who have received the mailers to check on board of elections' websites about the status of their ballots before calling.

The status of absentee ballots can be checked at https://lookup.boe.ohio.gov/vtrapp/COUNTY NAME/avlookup.aspx

The added calls come at a time when “our phones are absolutely ringing off the hook” due to in an increase in early and absentee voting stemming from the coronavirus, Sleeth said.

“We’re trying to get all the calls…but people are getting a busy signal when they’re calling at times,” he said.

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