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Lawmakers at odds over which votes count from Ohio's mail-in election

Posted at 5:42 PM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 18:31:49-04

Ohio's primary election, conducted primarily through mail-in absentee ballots, has proven to be more complicated than lawmakers anticipated, as they work to determine which votes count under the rules set down by Ohio secretary of state Frank LaRose.

Now that the election is over, staff at the board of elections are working to tabulate the votes, which came in through a combination of mail-in ballots, drive-through drop off and in-person votes at the Hamilton County board of elections.

However, for those in-person votes, there are only four types of people who met the criteria to vote at the board of elections:

  • Voters with a disability
  • Voters who do not have a home address
  • Voters who requested a mail-in ballot but never received it

In-person votes were only available for those who met the approved criteria, and because of this some lawmakers believe the election violated of voter rights.

"It's shameful that the secretary of state would come up with such barriers knowing that we're all living in the space of the unknown," said Democrat Representative Sedrick Denson.

Denson believes the rules put in place as a result of the COVID-19 stay-at-home order were too strict and could have hindered rights.

Republican representative Tom Brinkman disagrees, pointing out that lawmakers voted unanimously to allow the special mail-in election.

"They were all jumping up and down saying it was great and they voted that way," said Brinkman.

The Hamilton County board of elections said approximately 550 voters showed up to cast an in-person ballot on April 28. On Tuesday, staff were still working to verify which ones qualify under the new rules. Roughly 7,000 votes were dropped off, and those have already been counted.

Denson said he is creating a bill to allow more flexibility, because he believes the COVID-19 rules caused confusion.

"This is not the time to start blocking, this is the time where we should make it easier for everybody," said Denson.

Voters who mailed in ballots by April 27 will count, as will early votes cast before the original March 17 election was postponed for the pandemic.