Ohio Congressional Democrats Urge Sec. of State LaRose to Protect Health and Safety of Voters and Poll Workers in November Election
WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03), along with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (OH), U.S. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), U.S. Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (OH-11), and U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13), penned a letter to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose urging him to immediately take action to protect the health and safety of Ohio voters and poll workers in this upcoming election.
Specifically, the lawmakers urged LaRose to immediately implement the recommendations made by a coalition of 200 doctors, faith leaders, and leading voting rights advocates to ensure voters and poll workers are not forced to make the impossible decision between their health and their fundamental right to vote. The recommendations include requiring social distancing, wearing facemasks, providing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to poll workers, and more.
“As Ohio’s Secretary of State, it is your responsibility to ensure that all Ohioans have access to safe in-person voting options and that poll workers, the backbone of our democracy, are afforded every health and safety precaution in this upcoming election. You have an urgent obligation to communicate the steps you are proactively taking to instill confidence in the machinery of democracy. We urge you to implement these recommendations, and thank you for your prompt consideration of our request,” the Ohio lawmakers wrote in their letter.
Last week, the lawmakers sent a letter to LaRose urging him to work with the skilled and dedicated tradespeople of Ohio to locate additional drop boxes across all 88 counties. The men and women of Ohio State Sheet Metal Workers Locals #24 and #33, as well as the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council, have said they stand ready to build additional secure ballot boxes, at no cost to the state. LaRose’s recent appeal of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas’ ruling directing him to allow multiple secure ballot drop boxes is the latest example of how he has injected considerable uncertainty at an already challenging time for elections officials.
Beatty, Brown, Kaptur, Fudge, and Ryan also sent a letter to LaRose in September asking him to use his existing authority to prepay postage for absentee ballots and ballot applications for the upcoming 2020 General Election in Ohio. The lawmakers also urged LaRose to communicate with the Postal Service to ensure ballots that originate in Ohio are delivered on time, with visible postmarks, and do not succumb to delays and cost cutting measures, which could endanger timely delivery of vote by mail ballots.
In August, in the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis and the Trump Administration’s attempts to undercut the United States Postal Service (USPS), LaRose inexplicably banned county boards of elections from providing more than one ballot drop box for completed absentee ballots. He acted to ban additional secure drop boxes at the same time that absentee ballot applications were “pouring into Ohio’s boards of elections at an unprecedented rate.” In response, Beatty, Brown, Kaptur, Fudge, and Ryan urged him to reconsider his decision, explaining his clear authority to permit multiple drop boxes in each county. This authority was affirmed by the Franklin County Court’s recent ruling.