Controversy Over The Decision To Not Allow Postage Paid Ballots Continues

Sep 15, 2020

The leader of Democrats in the Ohio House is blasting a Republican controlled panel of lawmakers for its decision to deny a request by the Republican Secretary of State to pay for postage on ballots. Statehouse correspondent Jo Ingles reports. 

Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes

Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes says she’s not surprised the Ohio Controlling Board voted not to allow Secretary of State Frank LaRose to shift money in his office around to allow mail-in ballots to be prepaid. 

“It has been the prerogative of the Republican caucus to create barriers and make it challenging for everyday people to vote. Things like not allowing for prepaid postage is akin to a poll tax," Sykes says.

Sykes and other Democrats are critical of majority Republicans for the process too.

Senate President Larry Obhof
Credit Jo Ingles

Ohio’s Senate President, Larry Obhof, made last minute replacements to the Ohio Controlling Board before that panel voted on the measure. Republican Senate President Larry Obhof replaced Sen. Jay Hottinger, a supporter of LaRose’s plan to provide postage for ballots, ahead of the vote. Hottinger was replaced with Republican Sen. Bill Coley, who has led fights against paying postage on ballots in the past. 

In a written statement, Obhof spokesman John Fortney says the role of the controlling board is to distribute funding, not make policy that bypasses election law. And he says it’s not uncommon for members to be replaced, adding it is the senate president’s prerogative to make those replacements that Fortney says, in this case, reflected the will of the general assembly.   

LaRose said he wanted to provide postage, in part, so voters would not delay in mailing ballots. But the panel of lawmakers that nixed the idea, pointing out mail-in ballots are not the only option. They said voters could choose to vote, in-person, at local board of elections for four weeks prior to Election Day or at their precincts on November 3.