State Representatives Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) and Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) responded to statements made by Secretary of State Frank LaRose today at a Columbus bar suggesting he could not pay return postage for voters’ ballots and ballot applications without a law change. The Democratic lawmakers earlier sent him a letter along with Representatives Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) and Catherine D. Ingram (D-Cincinnati)showing his authority to pay return postage and demanding he do so.
“When it comes to purging voters for infrequent voting or throwing out primary voters’ provisional ballots, Sec. LaRose claims authority or invents authority from between the lines of the Ohio Revised Code. But when it comes to helping voters by paying return postage, he claims his hands are tied. While the global pandemic rages on, voters are growing more fearful and he’s playing ‘Mother may I’ with a GOP-led legislature that is uninterested in helping voters. My constituents deserve better than this. This election is not a game,” Rep. Sweeney said.
“The federal CARES Act gave the states money to run elections under extreme pandemic conditions, including for paying return postage for ballots and applications. The Ohio Controlling Board broadly authorized LaRose to spend that federal money. There is no obstacle here,” said Rep. Hicks-Hudson.
Sec. LaRose said he supports paying return postage but he also said he supports House Bill 680. That bill would add new language to Ohio law prohibiting the secretary from doing what he has the current authority to do – pay return postage.