Frank LaRose Moves To Pay Return Postage For Absentee Ballots

Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Ohio's top elections official
Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Ohio's top elections official, is asking the state's Controlling Board to allow him to use up to $3 million from another division in his office to pay for postage for absentee ballots this fall. [Andy Chow / Statehouse News Bureau]
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Ohio’s Secretary of State is asking a panel of lawmakers that controls state funds to let his office pay return postage for absentee ballots.

The proposed process has never been used before in Ohio.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose is asking the state's Controlling Board to allow him to use up to $3 million from another division in his office to pay for postage for absentee ballots this fall.

The Controlling Board is a small group of appointed lawmakers who deal with funding issues that need immediate attention.

"This is just another way to hopefully get to achieve something I’ve been trying to do since April, which is to get postage paid for absentee ballot envelopes," LaRose said.

LaRose said the “innovative solution” would make “every mail box a drop box for millions of Ohioans."

Drop boxes have been seen as a key tool during the coronavirus pandemic for voters to deliver ballots without risking illness or U.S. Postal Services delays.

The postage proposal from Ohio's top elections official comes as LaRose faces criticism from Democrats and voting rights groups for a directive limiting the boxes to one per county.

LaRose said he doesn’t consider this move an “end run” around the legislature because he has spoken to legislative leaders. The Ohio General Assembly has not yet approved this and other election reforms LaRose wants to implement, and wouldn’t have time to do so before the November election.

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich used a similar tack when he asked the Controlling Board to expand Medicaid in 2013.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot in Ohio is Oct. 31, and ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 2.

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