It solely takes a couple of minutes to finish the 2020 normal election poll. However, in case you’ve requested an absentee poll this yr to gradual the unfold of COVID-19, you might need to plan for a 60-minute round-trip drive to your native board of elections to drop it off – an pointless step that makes it tougher for Ohioans to vote in the course of a worldwide pandemic.
There may be nothing in Ohio regulation that limits the quantity or location of poll drop packing containers in every county. For example, Secretary of State Frank LaRose has the authority to show Cincinnati Public Library’s branches into 40 extra, accessible polling areas in Hamilton County alone by putting in safe drop packing containers at each. The Tenth District Courtroom of Appeals confirmed that in a ruling final week. But LaRose selected to ban county boards of elections from putting in poll drop packing containers at locations apart from their places of work.
It’s unrealistic to count on the almost 600,000 registered voters in Hamilton County to share one poll drop field. Putting in a number of drop packing containers throughout every of Ohio’s 88 counties would have made voting extra accessible, particularly for Ohioans who lack childcare or transportation, these whose work schedules usually are not accommodating to lengthy drive occasions or restricted polling hours or those that are at the next threat of experiencing issues from COVID-19.
Sadly, the document quantity of people that have requested to vote by mail this yr might want to discover a approach to make this sophisticated and inconvenient system work, all as a result of their leaders selected to decide with out their finest pursuits in thoughts. Greater than two million Ohio voters have already requested an absentee poll, surpassing the almost 1.3 million ballots requested in all of 2016. Throughout a worldwide pandemic that has already contaminated greater than 153,000 Ohioans, voters shouldn’t be compelled to decide on between ready in lengthy strains on Election Day, planning an hour-long journey to drop off their poll or counting on the postal service, which is experiencing delays.
This dilemma is a part of a protracted collection of Republican makes an attempt to disenfranchise voters whereas claiming that they need to make voting simpler. This yr alone, Republican legislators shot down quite a lot of proposals that might have simplified Ohio’s voting course of, together with laws to put in a number of safe absentee poll drop packing containers all through every county, present postage for absentee ballots and shorten the sophisticated mail-in voting course of by permitting Ohioans to request a poll on-line.
Many can even keep in mind 2014 when Republican legislators handed a invoice – co-sponsored by then-Senator LaRose – that revoked the “Golden Week,” when Ohioans might register and vote in the identical day. It’s clear that Republicans have by no means labored to make it simpler for Ohioans to vote – they’ve labored for their very own political acquire.
LaRose and Republican lawmakers have at all times centered their vitality on payments and proposals that might create extra boundaries to the poll in Ohio. These measures proceed to set Ohio dangerously behind different states comparable to Colorado, Michigan and Wisconsin, the place voters have the choice to return their ballots at safe drop packing containers positioned at central areas like public libraries.
LaRose noticed firsthand how the pandemic affected Ohio’s main election in March, and he had seven months to arrange for the final election by ensuring Ohioans might vote simply, safely and near house. He spent the summer time taking part in politics as a substitute.
Sen. Cecil Thomas, a Democrat from Avondale, represents Ohio’s ninth Senate district, which incorporates components of Cincinnati, St. Bernard, Elmwood Place, Norwood, Golf Manor, Hollydale, Columbia Township, Silverton and Springfield Township.