Ohio: Could Ohio develop online absentee ballot requests in time for November election? | Rick Rouan/The Columbus Dispatch
Elections officials and voting rights advocates are backing a bill in the Ohio Senate that would correct what they believe was a glaring weakness in the state’s mostly by-mail primary: the need for an online absentee ballot request system. But last week, when the House State & Local Government Committee debated adding that to its own version of a plan to prepare Ohio for the general election under the threat from COVID-19, Rep. Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill, questioned whether there is time to develop such a system. He compared it to Ohio’s overwhelmed unemployment claims system, which is going to take years to replace. But Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose believes as many as 50% of voters could cast ballots by mail in November, and he’s still pressing lawmakers to give him the authority to implement an online absentee ballot request ahead of the November election. So, how would he do it? Spokesman Jon Keeling said LaRose’s office has been thinking about the potential for an online absentee ballot request since he took office in January 2019. LaRose actually wanted to make the change when he was a state senator.