The U.S. Postal Service has sent a letter to dozens of state election officials around the country including Ohio, warning that delays in delivering the mail could result in voters not being able to cast their absentee ballots in time.
The letter sent to Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R-Ohio) on July 30, notes ways states can adjust to these delays by changing voter deadlines.
Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) says they've been advocating for expanded voter access for this very reason.
"It's not just theory, it's not just conjecture. It is now clear evidence delivered to him that there is a very likelihood that thousands of thousands if not millions of people across the [country] and here in Ohio that could be disenfranchised by this process," says Sweeney.
Sweeney and other Democratic lawmakers are calling on LaRose to allow county boards of elections to provide additional ballot drop boxes. LaRose counters by arguing that's a decision that must be made by the legislature.
Read: Letter from USPS to Secretary of State Frank LaRose
Earlier this week, LaRose said he had asked Attorney General Dave Yost to provide a legal opinion on the matter. However, LaRose said he did not hear from the attorney general's office soon enough, so he pulled that request and went ahead with the decision to prohibit additional drop boxes.
LaRose has noted concerns with postal delays in the past. He says his office has been trying to warn voters to not "procrastinate" when it comes to requesting and casting an absentee ballot.
The secretary of state's office says LaRose has been working on ways to mitigate potential postal service delays.
Maggie Sheehan, LaRose spokesperson, says the USPS committed to implementing certain protocols during the Ohio primary, and the office believes those will be continued this fall.
Those protocols include:
- USPS will institute "all clear" processes to ensure all election mail is processed each day.
- Staff will recheck collection bins each day to ensure late arriving ballots are retrieved
- Postal facilities will track election mail deliveries to Ohio’s boards of elections
- Election mail will not be routed through the Detroit Regional Distribution Center. Instead it will be kept in-state.
- USPS will assign their independent investigative unit to do additional "all clear" checks at Ohio facilities.
LaRose also ensures that in-person voting will still be an option on Election Day, November 3.