Primary Voting Extended By Mail

Voting in Ohio’s March primary will continue in April. To take part, voters should request a vote-by-mail ballot from the Board of Elections, then complete and return it without delay.

That’s the simple update on the Ohio primary. All ballots already at the Board of Elections or there by the end of April will count. There’s still time to vote, and no reason to wait; local polling places in Lakewood won’t be opening.

Technically, March 17 remains the date of Ohio’s 2020 primary. Late on March 16, the Ohio Department of Health ordered polls closed, amid efforts to slow the COVID-19 pandemic. Errors and false steps by Secretary of State Frank LaRose and other state officials produced days of confusion, but legislators restored some clarity on March 25.

House Bill 197, passed unanimously by the Ohio General Assembly, allows voters to continue requesting and returning primary ballots until the end of April. The broad pandemic-response bill also instructs boards of elections to pre-pay the return postage for vote-by-mail ballots.

Limited in-person voting is to be available at the Board of Elections on April 28, only for voters with disabilities or no access to the postal service.

State Rep. Michael Skindell said “Ohio voters must have the opportunity to be heard, on the issues and candidates in this primary. The extended voting by mail will support this, while protecting voters, volunteers and election workers’s health.”

State Senator Nickie Antonio said “I am particularly relieved that an amendment prohibiting public water disconnections was added, a critical component that will ensure the health and safety of our citizens. The bill also protects our democracy by allowing registered voters who have not yet cast a ballot in the 2020 primary to vote by mail until April 28.”

Voter advocacy groups including the ACLU and League of Women Voters opposed the provisions in H.B. 197 as inadequate, and may pursue litigation.

Meanwhile, Lakewood voters who haven’t yet voted in the primary should simply contact the Board of Elections and get a ballot in, as soon as possible:

  1. Print a ballot request at 443vote.us, or call (216) 443-VOTE
  2. Mail your form requesting a March 17 primary ballot to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, 2925 Euclid Ave, Cleveland
  3. Complete your ballot once it arrives and return it to the board

Ballots must be postmarked by April 27, or dropped off directly at the Board of Elections by 7:30 p.m. April 28, to count.

Matt Kuhns

Matt Kuhns is a freelance graphic designer, and occasional author.

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Volume 16, Issue 8, Posted 11:01 AM, 04.02.2020