Ohio sets all-mail primary April 28; in-person voting off

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio has set a new, almost exclusively mail-in primary election for April 28 due to
the coronavirus, ignoring the timing recommendations of the state elections chief and some voting-rights
Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed a sweeping relief bill containing the change Friday, though he also
had advocated for a different outcome.
Under the new scenario, the standard in-person primary is off and registered voters who haven’t yet cast
a ballot will need to apply for an absentee ballot to vote. They can do that by printing an application
form off the internet, calling their county elections board to request one or writing the necessary
information on a piece of paper. Requests must be received at the board by noon on April 25, except in
cases of unforeseen hospitalizations.
Once a ballot is received and completed, it must be postmarked by April 27, or it can be directly
delivered to the voter’s county election board on Election Day. Only those voters with disabilities or
those without home mailing addresses will be allowed to vote in person April 28.
Ohio’s top health official ordered polls closed over concerns about the coronavirus just hours before
voters were supposed to begin casting ballots March 17 in the state’s presidential primary. DeWine
announced the decision the night before after a judge had ruled against his request that in-person
voting be delayed because of crowds at polling places.
Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose instructed the state’s 88 county election boards to comply
with Dr. Amy Acton’s directive and rescheduled in-person voting to June 2. That timeline was challenged
in court by the Ohio Democratic Party, which advocated for casting all remaining votes by mail.
The party moved Thursday to drop its lawsuit, saying the coronavirus relief bill passed Wednesday had
addressed its concerns — but voting-rights advocates remained concerned the new date would
disenfranchise voters.
The Ohio chapters of the ACLU, the League of Women Voters and others called April 28 an
"unacceptable, unworkable" date.
LaRose said this week that he will carry out the election as lawmakers have outlined it, though he had
hoped things would be different.