Ohio Voter Rights Coalition Blog; The Ohio Voter Rights Coalition: Tell Ohio's Speaker of the House to Protect Absentee Voting

Tell Ohio's Speaker of the House to Protect Absentee Voting

Alarmingly, the Ohio House of Representatives revealed on Tuesday that its latest budget proposal did not provide for any funding for a statewide absentee ballot application mailing in 2016.  Now it’s up to Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger to ensure that an amendment is inserted into H.B. 64 that protects absentee voting.
 
During an all-important presidential election year when turnout is at its heaviest, it is absolutely critical that all Ohio voters receive an absentee ballot application.  According to the Secretary of State, in 2012, the first year when all voters statewide received absentee ballot applications, absentee voting reached an all-time high.  Approximately one-third of all statewide votes cast their ballots prior to Election Day, primarily by mail.
 
Failure to provide for the funds for this mailing is particularly troublesome because the legislature prohibited the Secretary of State and local boards of elections from sending out unsolicited absentee applications with passage of SB 205 in 2014.   The legislature stripped local boards’ ability to use an effective elections administration tool – instead the legislature designated itself as the sole gatekeeper for deciding whether all voters will receive absentee ballots applications in any given year.   

If the General Assembly does not authorize the mailings, this inaction will result in a confusing and unnecessary barrier to vote. In a state where elections issues are often contentious, the modest proposal to fund absentee ballot mailings in 2016 won broad support early on from both advocates and elections officials, including the Ohio Secretary of State, Ohio Association of Election Officials, and numerous voter advocacy organizations.  No one testified in opposition to the proposed amendment.  Unless an amendment is made to the budget, voters will not automatically receive an absentee ballot application in 2016, despite being accustomed to receiving one in the mail.
 
House Speaker Rosenberger must fix the budget so that H.B. 64 does not create barriers to the right to vote.  Here is what you can do right now to make your voice heard:
  • Sign our petition now!


Here are some articles on this topic:

Budget doesn’t fund mailing of Ohio absentee-ballot applications, for now The Columbus Dispatch (4/16/15)
Ohio budget lacks funds to send absentee ballot applications Associated Press (4/15/15)
Absentee voter mailing not paid for in Ohio House budget proposal The Plain Dealer (4/15/15)

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