COLUMBUS—State Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville) issued a statement after the Ohio House passed a bill yesterday that would allow Secretary LaRose to shorten the federally required 45-day military and overseas voting period before Election Day by 16 days. The bill comes after the federal Department of Defense denied Ohio’s request to shorten the time for delivering absentee ballots to military and overseas voters. The Under Secretary of Defense said LaRose’s waiver request failed to provide adequate time for military and overseas voters to receive their ballots or to return them. The bill also does not fix this problem.
“As I participated in the House Session last night, I realized that rules can be set aside by the majority to serve their own purposes," said Rep. Lightbody. “Republicans continue to break the rules to retain as much power as possible. Why else would the majority party refuse to move the date of the primary election while we await the Court’s decision on the latest maps? Cutting 16 days from the time service members overseas have to vote will challenge their ability to cast ballots for the actual candidates and issues according to their home address since we still don’t know which precincts and districts should be included on our ballots."
Democrats introduced an amendment that would have moved the primary date from May 3 to June 28, thereby allowing all military and overseas voters to fully participate in the election. The amendment was rejected by Republicans.
In a last minute, late night maneuver, the House attempted to make the provisions shortening military voting take immediate effect by adding an appropriation to the bill. However, case law provides that only the appropriation will take immediate effect while the substantive change delaying the start of military voting will not take effect until 90 days from enactment.