Ohio Secretary Of State Expects Record Voter Turnout For November Election

Jun 18, 2020
Originally published on June 17, 2020 2:16 pm

Ohio will send out an absentee ballot request form to every registered voter ahead of November’s election, which the Secretary of State expects to be the biggest in state history.

The Ohio Controlling Board gave Secretary of State Frank LaRose approval this week to use about $1.5 million in federal funding to send out ballot request forms.

While the state has sent out the forms for every general election since 2012, the general assembly did not allow LaRose to do so for this spring's punted primary election.

“They didn’t feel like there was enough time to get it done, and in fact there wouldn’t have been," LaRose says. "We would have had to wait longer to conclude the election."

Turnout plummeted this spring after Gov. Mike DeWine canceled in-person voting and the Ohio legislature extended absentee voting until the end of April. Just 23% of the state's 7.8 million registered voters participated in the 2020 primary, down half from the 2016 primary.

LaRose says that the move to send out absentee ballot applications for November, while expected, is particularly crucial this year.

“A quarter of Ohioans choose to vote by mail in just about every election,” LaRose says. “We know that that percentage is going to be much, much higher. I’m telling [county boards of elections] to prepare for that to be twice as much, it could be 40-50% of our ballots to come in by mail.”

The Secretary of State’s Office is asking the General Assembly for the ability to spend federal dollars on extra equipment and personnel so the boards don’t become overwhelmed.

“We expect it’s going to be not only the highest turnout election in our state’s history, but also the highest percentage of vote by mail ballots we’ve ever seen,” LaRose says.

Earlier this month, the Ohio House passed a Republican bill that prevents the governor from moving the fall election. It also moves back the absentee ballot requesting deadline from the Saturday before the election, to one week before.

Democrats and voting rights groups criticized the bill, saying that Ohio needs to do more to make voting easier. They called for the state to allow people to request absentee ballots online, and to include paid postage for ballots and request forms. LaRose previously said he supported those measures.

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