Ohio GOP board members block plan to pay postage on mail-in ballots

Ohio GOP board members block plan to pay postage on mail-in ballots
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A postage plan for Ohio's mail-in ballots failed to gain approval from Republicans on a key panel in the state, a move that reportedly makes it all but impossible for ballots to get stamped in time for the November election, The Associated Press reported.

The proposal, put forward by Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose, failed in a 2-4 vote, as Republicans on the Controlling Board opposed approving $3 million from a special fund to cover the postage of mail-in ballots. LaRose argued that the cost was within the law, with the fund previously being used to cover the costs of voting machines, poll worker training and other election-related fees. 

“A no vote today is a no vote that is over the objection of our bipartisan election officials and over my objection as the state’s chief elections officer,” LaRose said.

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LaRose had called his postage funding proposal an “innovative solution” that would make “every mailbox a dropbox for millions of Ohioans.” It was a final effort to address mail-in voting changes needed during the coronavirus pandemic, as previous election changes stalled in the GOP-controlled state legislature earlier this year.

Republicans on the panel argued, however, that it was an issue to be decided among state lawmakers and that the action was beyond their authority.

The decision means Ohio voters will likely have to buy their own postage if they wish to vote by mail. 

"Ohio has a sound elections system, but today was another missed opportunity by the legislature to make a small change, without an impact on our state budget, that would yield a big improvement," LaRose said in a statement after the decision.
 
The Ohio Capital Journal reported that one of the Republican board members who voted against prepaid postage announced he tested positive for COVID-19 less than one hour before the meeting began. The Controlling Board met for the vote over Zoom.