Voters have options other than mailing their ballot. They can vote in-person at their polling place on Election Day, vote early in-person at the board of elections starting Oct. 6, or drop off their absentee ballot at a secure drop box at their local board of elections.
“We are definitely recommending people use our drop box," Warren County Board of Elections Deputy Director Shari Huff said.
Requests for absentee ballots have surged this year to 1.3 million statewide, already surpassing the number of absentee ballots cast by mail in the 2016 presidential election in some area counties. Ballots will be mailed to voters who request them on Oct. 6, and elections officials urge voters to fill them out and send them back as quickly as possible to make sure they are received on time.
The cost of voting has been a contentious issue this week. On Monday, a panel of state lawmakers denied a request by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose to spend up to $3 million from his agency’s budget to pre-pay postage for voters.
On Tuesday, a Franklin County judge ordered LaRose to allow local boards of elections to provide multiple drop boxes at different locations around their counties if they want, where voters can deposit ballots without postage. LaRose previously said he supported allowing multiple drop boxes but issued a directive prohibiting them saying they weren’t allowed by state law. LaRose said he plans to appeal the judge’s order.
“(The) ruling has enormous implications for holding a secure and fair election in Ohio and assuring voters of the integrity of its result,” Secretary of State spokeswoman Maggie Sheehan said. “For those reasons, Ohioans deserve a full and immediate review of the ruling by the appellate courts.”
The Ohio Republican Party blasted the judge’s ruling as partisan.
“The judge’s interpretation of this law due to his partisan affiliation is a blatant obstruction of his judicial responsibility,” the party said in a statement.
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican, condemned the GOP’s allegation that the judge’s decision was politically motivated.
Susan Hesselgesser, executive director of the League of Woman Voters of the Greater Dayton Area, said her organization is hopeful legal challenges allowing boards of elections to offer more than one drop box per county will succeed.
“There should be no charge for voting; even affixing, at minimum, two stamps to each mailed in ballot is an unnecessary and, for some, a costly experience,” she said.
“Many people pay bills online and do not have stamps on-hand," Hesselgesser said. "With Montgomery County experiencing one of the largest spreads of COVID-19, sending people to the post office to purchase stamps or to have postage affixed to their ballots could constitute a health risk for some and a physical challenge for others.”
Absentee ballot applications received locally so far, by county, according to the Ohio Secretary of State:
- Butler County: 36,296 requests
- Champaign County: 772 requests
- Clark County: 12,764 requests
- Darke County: 3,642 requests
- Greene County: 12,397 requests
- Miami County: 10,691 requests
- Montgomery County: 55,257 requests
- Preble County: 3,749 requests
- Warren County: 32,164 requests