Nearly 9,000 voters who requested absentee ballots to vote in last week’s main elections in six counties did not get ballots because their requests were sent late or were filled incorrectly, according to an analysis conducted by Dayton Daily News.
This illustrates the obstacles for state and local electoral officials who are preparing for a much bigger presidential election in November where a large number of people have never voted to vote because of the coronavirus problem.
Absent ballot forms are sent before the election continues to flow to the local electoral council for several days after the April 28 main election day, officials said. Interviews with Butler, Clark, Greene, Miami, Montgomery and Warren county election officials estimate the number of requests received after the deadline of more than 4,000 in those countries two days after the election, with more still in.
“There are many of them,” Montgomery Regional Election Board Deputy Director Steve Harsman said, estimating that between 1,500 and 2,000 requests had come to his office late. “I want to have them on Friday (April 24), when we can ask them to be processed. Too much. “
A large number of requests arrive on time but no information is needed, most often the appointment of the party the voters want. Local districts have full time staff to contact these voters and most requests are corrected, but around 4,500 requests in six local districts cannot be processed.
“The majority of people who think they asked for ballots but did not get them might have something wrong with their ballots and they did not get with us,” Greene County Election Council Director Llyn McCoy said.
But even voters who meet deadlines and provide appropriate information do not need to get their ballots on time because of the reality of snail letters.
The deadline for requesting ballots is Saturday afternoon, April 25. There were 4,166 ballots sent to voters that day in six countries. The completed ballot papers must be sent back to the electoral council with postmarked on April 27 or terminated from Election Day, April 28.
U.S. Postal Service Officers said first-class letter delivery took two to five days.
“There are people who ask for their ballots as quickly as possible and don’t get their ballots,” said Deputy Director of the Butler Regional Election Board Eric Corbin.
Delivery time liar wild reach ’
Postal service officials said they made a joint push in the final days before the election to get ballots for voters.
“Apart from the very strict statutory timeline for all letter elections to Ohio on Tuesday, the Postal Service made an extraordinary effort to process and send ballots in very close coordination with the office of the Secretary of State of Ohio,” post office spokesman Naddia said Dhalai
Local election officials said that the post office reversed deliveries quickly and several ballots sent on Saturday were issued. Some were dropped by voters on Election Day.
“I know the ballot reached the voters and returned to us on time,” said Clark County Election Director Jason Baker.
But the delivery time for ballot requests was “wild reach,” said Miami County Election Board Deputy Director Ian Ridgeway.
“We got one that was postmarked (April) 4 and we got it yesterday,” he said Wednesday. “There are some that need a week, two weeks, and there are some that we got yesterday that were postmarked on the 27th.”
Problems getting ballots
Chuck Greene is one of many people who say they sent a ballot but the election board never got it. When Greene contacted the Greene County Electoral Council and learned that the request had never appeared, he sent another request. The vote came five days later on the Saturday before the election.
“It’s a good feeling to get the ballot on Saturday,” he said. He and his wife filled them in that day and dropped them off on the electoral council.
But Kathi Flanders, who failed as a Republican contender for seat A. Turner Mike Turner in Congress, said that many people told him they had never received the ballot they requested.
Selection highlights: Everything you need to know about Tuesday’s election
“That greatly affected the election,” he said. “They really messed things up this year.”
Voters who request a ballot but don’t get it on time are allowed to vote directly in the electoral council on Election Day. More than 2,000 people cast temporary votes on Election Day in these six districts.
But this number includes people who did not ask for ballots to vote before the deadline. The state said on Friday the ballots would not be counted.
Country official: Change is needed
State Secretary Frank LaRose, a top Ohio election official, said he was not surprised by the newspaper’s findings. He wanted to push back the main elections until late May or early June to give voters more time to get their ballots, but the General Assembly approved the elections in early April.
“My hope is that in the future, members of the General Assembly will listen to the concerns of election officials and the office of the Secretary of State,” LaRose said. “Many of these problems, we were very clear about a few weeks ago that there were unrealistic expectations as far as logistics.”
One change made by LaRose and local election officials said it had to be done was to change the deadline for requesting ballots that were not present. Telling people that they can submit a request on Saturday and expecting a vote in time for Tuesday’s election is unrealistic, they said.
“You hate to tell people that we are working on your vote because you think behind your head, ‘Oh my God, you won’t get it,'” McCoy said.
LaRose wants to return the deadline to one week before the election.
Makes asking for ballots easier
Other election officials who hurdle say there is no need to ask people of the form to request an absent ballot. Many people call their electoral council to send them a request form, adding up to five days in advance for the process.
“How absurd is it in 2020 that we expect people to print a piece of dead tree paper, put a wet ink signature on it, find a stamp in their trash drawer or somewhere, send it to their local council for election, just to start another letter which they will then have to send back to the electoral council, “LaRose said.
“We should be able to do the request online,” he said. “It’s actually safer than paper when you have the right protection in place.”
In addition, LaRose supports automatically sending every registered voter in the state of the voting request form that is absent with a paid response envelope.
Get ready for November
LaRose said he hoped the state could offer a direct vote in November, but he hoped people would vote in letters at a much higher speed than before.
A study released last week from the Brennan Center for Justice estimates this year’s election will cost an extra $ 70 million to $ 82.2 million to conduct safely in Ohio and the state needs more federal assistance. The fee includes things such as personal protective equipment for polling officers for plastic sneezing guards so that the cost of shipping increases for cleaning supplies.
LaRose said reducing coronavirus would increase election costs, although he would not estimate how much at this time.
“We all assume we will all be absent from the vote,” said Susan Hesselgesser, executive director of the League of Women Voters from the Greater Dayton Area.
He will recommend sending actual ballots to registered voters, as do several states that hold only special election letters. But in short, he supports sending all voting request forms without them having to ask first.
He said the change in election dates, a new thing for many people voting through letters and a tight turnaround time left many people confused and unable to get a ballot in the primary election.
“That is a very large learning curve and does not give people enough opportunity to complete it,” he said, advocating for increasing voter outreach for whatever process was decided in November.
Election official ‘works hard’
LaRose said the state needed to have a plan in the middle to late summer to give people enough time to prepare.
Voting via secure mail like that of Ohio, he said, can be increased safely. He said the number of voters in this year’s primary elections was similar to the 2012 primary elections.
“Even with all the other logistical hurdles out there, it is evidence of the desire of voters to get involved and their voices heard and even overcome the challenges to do that, and to election officials who work hard to make it happen,” he said.
Warren County Regional Director Brian Sleeth did not feel the love of the voters, however, the day after the election while the ballot request form continued to arrive.
“What I did today was scolded by voters who said we were in a hurry in this election,” he said.
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