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Ohio House Keeps Last Weekend Of Early Voting, Won't Pay Postage For Absentee Ballots

A bowl of stickers for those taking advantage of early voting, Sunday, March 15, 2020, in Steubenville, Ohio.
Gene Puskar
Associated Press

On a party-line vote, an Ohio House committee passed a bill that will make some changes to election law. Backers say it gives more flexibility to election officials should COVID-19 cause changes this November but its opponents have concerns.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose says he wanted voters to be able to request ballots online and for the state to pay postage for those absentee ballot. 

“The House took out some things I was concerned about, and the House put in some things I was asking for," LaRose says.

The bill would allow LaRose to spend federal dollars for equipment and poll workers.

However, a provision to cancel early, in-person voting the weekend before the election was removed. Groups that had opposed cutting early voting days say they haven't had time to review the changes to the bill.

"Don't want to fixate on what is not in this bill, because the things that are in this bill are very good and will allow me to work with our 88 county boards of elections to give Ohioans what they deserve, which is a normal election this November," LaRose said.

Meanwhile, Democrats in the Ohio House are backing their own bill that, among other things, would do away with the application process and mail ballots directly to voters.

State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) says it’s not wise to get rid of voting options right now.

“We can’t be making it harder for people to vote, have less access, especially when we are going to make changes and there’s no funding for voter education in there," Sweeney says.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.