Leaders Outline 4 Steps SOS Has Authority to Implement
COLUMBUS – Ohio Labor Leaders called on Secretary of State Frank LaRose to ensure November’s election is safe and accessible by taking four steps immediately to make the online absentee ballot applications process easier, prepay postage, provide multiple drop boxes in each county and stop the consolidation of voting places.
In a letter to LaRose from Chris Mabe, President of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association and Chair of the We Are Ohio board and Tim Burga, Ohio AFL-CIO President and Vice-chair of the We Are Ohio board, the leaders noted the Secretary of State has broad authority under existing law through his administrative powers, and he does not need legislative approval to implement the four critical steps to a fair, secure and safe electoral process for all Ohio voters.
“We are heartened by the statements you have made and the work that you have done in anticipation of the challenges we face this fall. We applaud your commitment to ensure that Ohio does not experience the kinds of voting calamities we have seen recently in other states. It is increasingly clear the legislature will not act on a number of necessary measures to ensure safe and accessible elections,” said Mabe, Burga and leaders in the letter.
“We greatly appreciate the care and concern you have shown as we approach this challenging election. If steps are taken now, we can greatly mitigate the risk the Pandemic presents to safety and ballot access for Ohio voters. Like you, we want Ohio to be an example of how things should be done in times of crisis. Thank you for the collaborative approach you are taking on these issues,” said Mabe, Burga and leaders in the letter.
“We are fortunate that the Ohio Revised Code grants your office broad powers over voting in Ohio. To ensure the integrity of our elections this fall, we hope you will expeditiously use your administrative powers and take the following important actions to safeguard ballot access in this challenging time:
• Online Absentee Ballot Applications – As you know, ORC 3509.03 gives great latitude on the form of absentee application a voter may use. We know you agree that online applications are a vital tool for the increased absentee voting we will see this fall. We have been encouraged by your statements that your office can implement this mechanism expeditiously.
• Prepaid Postage – As you have said, a plan that does not afford every Ohioan an opportunity to vote free of charge would be unconstitutional. We absolutely agree, and feel it is crucial that postage be prepaid for Ohioans’ absentee ballot applications and ballots. We are fortunate that Ohio’s CARES Act funding allocation and additional federal funding potentially moving through Congress helps to alleviate the argument that this may not be affordable.
• Multiple Drop Boxes – Making it more convenient for voters to safely drop off applications and ballots is a common-sense step we can take to ensure voter access during this Pandemic. We recognize you have sought advice from the Ohio Attorney General on this issue. We urge you to act quickly once you receive guidance to ensure that Boards can incorporate this important tool in their election planning.
• Stop Consolidation of Voting Places – Like you, we are concerned about the lines, disruption and obvious safety issues we witnessed in other states where large numbers of voters were forced to vote in consolidated polling locations. We cannot afford the risk to our voters, poll workers and our state’s reputation to allow such a thing to happen in Ohio this November.
The letter was signed by Mabe, Burga and the following labor leaders:
Scott DiMauro, President Ohio Education Association
Melissa Cropper, President, Ohio Federation of Teachers
Lois Fields-Carson, State President Ohio Assoc. of Public School Employees OAPSE/AFSCME Local 4
Sean Grayson, President, AFSCME Council 8
Linda L. Hinton, Vice President Communications Workers of America – Dist. 4
Becky Williams, President, SEIU 1199
Donnie E. Blatt, Director USW – District 1
John T. McNay, President, Ohio Conference AAUP
Randy Quickel, President, UFCW Local 1059
Kevin Garvey, President UFCW Local 75
Theotis L. James, Transport Workers of America Union Executive Board Member International Representative
Wayne Blanchard, Assistant Director United Auto Workers Region 2-B
Andre Washington, State President, APRI Ohio
Davida Russell, Ohio Chapter President, Coalition of Labor Union Women
Petee Talley, Region V Representative Coalition of Black Trade Unionists President, Ohio Unity Coalition
Norm Wernet, President Ohio Alliance for Retired Americans Ed. Fund