COLUMBUS—Ohio House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) and Rep. Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo) issued statements today after the Ohio House passed a bill that would let Secretary LaRose 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 the problem.
“This amendment will significantly cut the amount of time of our military and overseas voters have to receive their ballots and get them back into the mail by Election Day simply because Republicans have refused to adopt constitutional maps and move the primary,” said Leader Russo. “The obvious and more responsible solution is to delay the primary so that election officials and all voters experience a smooth election and have the ability to make their voices heard.”
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.
“Election officials have already told us we are past the point of being able to guarantee a smooth election. We should not be shortchanging our service members because unreasonable Republicans in Columbus refuse to move the primary to a date that will allow access for all Ohioans to vote. Our service members, who protect our freedom to vote every day, deserve better than this rushed bill and rushed election,” said Rep. Sobecki, a U.S. Navy veteran.
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.