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Ohio Senate extends deadline for overseas primary ballots to be returned

Daniel Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
Franklin County Board of Elections prepares to mail ballots.

A proposed bill would allow overseas voters, including people serving in the military, to send their ballots in 20 days after the May 3 primary.

The Ohio Senate called a previously unscheduled session to take place on Tuesday to address the delay in getting ballots to overseas voters because of the fluctuating status of state legislative and congressional district maps.

Local boards of elections will not have ballots ready in time to send to overseas voters by the March 18 deadline. The state asked the federal government to waive the requirement that overseas voters have access to their ballot 45 days before the May 3 primary.

The federal government denied that request, leading to Senators Tuesday extending the final day of the primary for only overseas voters.

Under the Senate amendment, ballots from overseas voters can be received by local boards of elections 20 days after the May 3 primary. The previous required return date was 10 days after the primary.

The amendment would also shorten the required window between having the ballots ready for use and the primary from 45 days to 30 days.

The amended bill, which has an emergency clause attached to go into effect right away, must now be approved by the Ohio House. The House is expected to hold a vote on the legislation on Wednesday.

Local boards of elections are behind in getting ballots ready because previous attempts at drawing state legislative and congressional district maps have been invalidated by the courts.

A state legislative district plan passed on February 24 and a congressional district map approved on March 2 are both facing objections in court.

Elections officials have asked lawmakers to extend the May 3 primary for all voters. But legislative leaders say they do not want to do that unless the court takes further action on their proposed state legislative and congressional district maps.

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