Ohio Toasts New Voter Registration Initiative With Craft Breweries

Jul 16, 2020
Originally published on July 15, 2020 3:22 pm

Secretary of State Frank LaRose, the state's top elections official, is working with craft breweries to help increase the number of registered voters in Ohio. He says this is just one way to reach eligible voters.

More than 30 craft breweries in Ohio are working with the initiative to ramp up voter registration. The beer companies will put labels on their cans and bottles that direct people to a link where they can register online.

LaRose says Ohio's registration rate of 8 million people out of 11 million is pretty good but says the state can do better.

"We want to get these out into the hands of Ohio's responsible, over 21, beer consumers and make sure that they're able to start taking advantage of this messaging right away," says LaRose.

The secretary of state was asked about other initiatives that could expand voter access, such as postage paid absentee ballots. LaRose says he supports that move but needs legislative approval.

House Democrats argue LaRose can carry out that order on his own.

"The federal CARES Act gave the states money to run elections under extreme pandemic conditions, including for paying return postage for ballots and applications. The Ohio Controlling Board broadly authorized LaRose to spend that federal money. There is no obstacle here," said Rep. Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) in a written statement.

LaRose says allowing absentee ballots to be requested online and increasing ballot drop-off boxes are other proposals he supports but says he needs lawmakers to back those as well. He says carrying out these types of orders without legislative approval can make the state vulnerable to lawsuits.

The deadline to register to vote for the November general election is October 5.

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