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Lawmakers face dilemma with Ohio overseas and military voter ballots

Dan Konik
The Statehouse News Bureau

State legislators are considering making changes to the May primary for Ohio voters who live overseas or are serving in the military.

Local boards of elections are running behind in preparing ballots for those voters due to the state's delay in finalizing state legislative and congressional district maps.

The ballots must be sent to overseas and military voters 45 days before election day, a deadline officials say cannot be met. Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R-Ohio) requested a waiver by the federal government to delay the delivery of those ballots but that waiver was denied.

The Ohio Senate plans to meet for an impromptu session Tuesday to address the problem. A Senate source said it's possible the lawmakers will propose extending the required return date for overseas and military voters beyond May 3.

House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) points the blame at Republicans who have approved three district map plans that were deemed unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court.

"Our service men and women protect our freedom to vote every single day, but now, Republicans are playing politics with the votes of these service members. We can still easily move the primary to ensure all Ohioans have the opportunity to cast their ballots," said Russo.

Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission have approved two state legislative district plans that were invalidated by the court. A congressional plan approved by Republicans in the House and Senate was also rejected.

A new set of plans for state legislative and congressional district maps have been adopted by the redistricting commission, but all three maps are now pending in court.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said they might consider moving the May 3 primary for all voters and offices if the court were to take action again on any of the pending maps.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.