voting

MANSFIELD -- As it turns out, the Ohio General Assembly still picks election days in the state, not the Secretary of State.

Lawmakers approved a proposal on Wednesday to simply eliminate additional in-person voting for the 2020 primary election, choosing instead to extend absentee voting only until April 28.

Late on March 16, hours before in-person voting was to begin, state health director Dr. Amy Acton ordered the polls to remain closed, citing the coronoavirus outbreak.

Frank LaRose, the state's first-term secretary of state, then sent a directive to county boards of election, ordering them to extend absentee balloting and prep for a June 2 in-person election day.

On March 21, LaRose offered the plan to lawmakers in his "Ohio Voters 1st Act," saying June 2 is the earliest date by which the election could be concluded in a way that preserves "the integrity of our election."

However, state lawmakers had their own ideas, which will become law when Gov. Mike DeWine signs it, as he is expected to do.

According to the plan approved by the Ohio House and Senate, the March 17 primary is not "cancelled."  It's extended until April 28.

In a statement, LaRose said, "It's disappointing (lawmakers) have chosen to significantly reduce the time provided for Ohio to bring this primary to a close.

"Though I advocated for a different plan, the legislature has spoken and I will uphold my oath of office by doing everything in my power over the next 34 days to ensure every Ohio voter has the opportunity to safely make their voice heard," LaRose said.

His office must print and mail about 7.8 million informational postcards to every registered voter in Ohio, explaining how to obtain the form necessary to request an absentee ballot.

LaRose said it's likely these postcards will reach registered voters by the second week in April.

Here are the details:

-- Ballots cast in-person or absentee during the early-voting period, which ended March 16, will be counted.

-- There will be no June 2 in-person voting in Ohio, save for voters with disabilities that prevent them from voting by mail and those who cannot receive mail.

-- Any Richland County voters who have not already voted may request an absentee ballot application by calling 419-774-5530 or visiting VoteOhio.gov. Voters may also print an absentee ballot application by clicking on the link.

-- Applications are to be sent to Richland County Board of Elections,  1495 W. Longview Ave.; Suite 101, Mansfield, Ohio, 44906. If you mail a request for an application, you must pay the postage.

-- Applications for absentee ballots must be received by noon on April 25.

-- Ballots must be returned by April 28. If you are returning a completed absentee ballot by mail via the postage-paid envelope, it must be postmarked by April 27. If you are dropping off a completed absentee ballot, it must be received at the Board of Elections by 7:30 p.m. on April 28.

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