Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose: ‘We’ve gone down the path of constantly challenging the elections when we don’t like the results.’ | Andrew J. Tobias/Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose defended the integrity of the U.S. election, calling recent claims from President Donald Trump and other Republicans disputing the results an example of a harmful trend of politicization of elections administration. LaRose, like a few other Republican, also said President Donald Trump has a right to make his case in court, but that he should do so quickly for the sake of an orderly transition into the next presidential term. He said he believes Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden won the election, based on currently available evidence. “I certainly have faith in Ohio’s elections, and I believe that other states… almost all, I think all the other states do it very well also,” LaRose said during an interview Monday with reporters and editors from cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer. “All I’m saying is there’s a reason why there’s an opportunity to present evidence in a courtroom, and if you have that evidence you have to bring it forward and vet it out.” “Maybe it can even be cathartic for people to see it play out, but it has to happen quickly. That’s my point. If anybody believes that there’s something out there, they need to show evidence. Otherwise, making claims without any basis or evidence behind it is problematic,” he said.

Full Article: Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose: ‘We’ve gone down the path of constantly challenging the elections when we don’t like the results.’ – cleveland.com

Ohio: Franklin County moves to paper pollbooks, leading to voting delays | Rick Rouan/The Columbus Dispatch

Franklin County has shifted to paper pollbooks for Election Day in a move that could make the voting process slower in Ohio’s largest county. The county has for years been using electronic pollbooks, which allow poll workers to quickly check in voters at their precinct polling location, but problems uploading the most recent data overnight prompted the Franklin County Board of Elections to make the change. An updated electronic file containing data about who voted early was too large — a product of an unprecedented level of early voting in Franklin County — and could not be synced with the electronic poll books, said Ed Leonard, director of the Franklin County Board of Elections. At the close of early voting, 350,982 people had cast early votes in Franklin County, either in person or via returned mail-in ballots. The county has about 833,000 registered voters. “We can’t guarantee all the data would be there for all the most recent absentee activity,” Leonard said.

Full Article: Franklin County moves to paper pollbooks, leading to voting delays

Ohio: Voting-rights’ groups end federal fight over drop boxes in presidential election | John Caniglia/Cleveland Plain Dealer

A legal fight to add more drop boxes in Ohio counties before Election Day ended Thursday, as voting-rights’ advocates dismissed their federal lawsuit against Secretary of State Frank LaRose. The NAACP of Ohio, the League of Women Voters and the A. Philip Randolph Institute of Ohio filed a brief notice that dropped all claims against LaRose in U.S. District Court in Cleveland.The filing marked the end of a contentious issue that lasted six weeks and bounced between a federal judge in Cleveland and the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in LaRose’s favor earlier this month and limited the number of drop boxes across the state. “We believe the appeals’ decision was wrong, but we didn’t have any other options,” said Jon Greenbaum, an attorney representing the organizations. “We weren’t going to make it better by appealing that decision.“At a future date, it can be brought up with new information, including from the 2020 election.”

Ohio: Nine counties switch to printing absentee ballots in-house due to delays with Cleveland-based company | Robin Goist/Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has reported that nine of the 16 counties that contracted with Cleveland-based Midwest Direct to print and mail absentee ballots have switched to printing ballots in-house.The counties of Butler, Clinton, Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Lucas, Mahoning, Miami and Williams have “discontinued their relationship” with the company and are instead printing and mailing ballots from their boards of elections, LaRose said. The other counties with apparently intact contracts with Midwest Direct are Cuyahoga, Lorain, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, Union and Wood.LaRose shared the update Monday evening following a report from cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer that thousands of voters were still awaiting absentee ballots nearly two weeks after they were supposed to be mailed.“ Many of you have heard that there’s a vendor in Northeast Ohio that had failed to really meet expectation on getting absentee ballots out on time,” LaRose said, without mentioning the company by name. “It’s truly unfortunate and unacceptable that they over-promised and under-delivered.”

Ohio: Most election vendors face little oversight in Ohio | Rick Rouan/The Columbus Dispatch

Outside vendors hired to help run Ohio elections have been blamed for mistakenly scheduling voter registrations to be purged and for slowing down the distribution of mail-in ballots during the past year. But state law provides little in the way of oversight for those vendors, and elections in Ohio are “decentralized,” left mostly to local boards of elections to manage. That means decisions about who to hire to print ballots, manage voter registration rolls and other outsourcing of elections administration are made individually in each of Ohio’s 88 counties. “There is scrutiny to the extent that they’re public agencies that are conducting a public bid,” said Aaron Ockerman, executive director of the Ohio Association of Election Officials. “Local boards of elections need to conduct due diligence when they’re considering their vendors just like any public company or agency would do.” But most of the state and federal oversight is reserved for voting equipment providers, and not the vendors that have had problems over the past year.

Ohio: Elections chief faces two new lawsuits 95 days out from the November general election | Laura Hancock/Cleveland Plain Dealer

Two new lawsuits were filed against Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose on Friday: One by the Ohio Democratic Party to allow online requests for absentee ballots and another by the League of Women Voters of Ohio over the practice of signature-matching when absentee ballots are requested. On Friday, it was 95 days until the Nov. 3 election. Ohio Democratic Party Chair David Pepper noted that this year is more unusual than typical election years. “Given the fact that we’re in a global pandemic and many Ohioans have to remain at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, many more voters will be casting absentee ballots this fall,” he said in a Friday morning call with reporters. LaRose, a Republican, criticized the suits as challenging security and trust in elections.

Ohio: Elections boards getting $23M from feds, but is it enough for pandemic-plagued vote? | Rick Rouan/The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio’s 88 local boards of elections are getting nearly $23 million in federal relief in 2020, but they say more is needed to help pull off the general election amid the pandemic. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is channeling another $11.7 million in federal funding to the county boards to manage security for the November general election. The latest batch of money is on top of $11.2 million in federal coronavirus relief funding directed to the county boards last week. But with only 111 days left before Election Day, and in-person voting and absentee balloting to start a month earlier, the boards still are strapped for resources. In May, the Ohio Association of Election Officials sent a letter to Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman urging them to support more funding for elections in a future coronavirus stimulus package. “We’re still actively lobbying members of Congress to get additional federal money distributed,” said Aaron Ockerman, the association’s executive director.

Ohio: Coronavirus could prompt poll worker shortage, long Election Day lines in Ohio this November | Andrew J. Tobias/Cleveland Plain Dealer

The coronavirus pandemic could lead to some polling places being closed and create longer lines for the ones that remain open, making it harder for Ohioans to cast their vote this November, according to voting advocates and elections officials. The problem starts with poll workers. Ohio law requires four poll workers per location, two from each party, adding up to around 35,000 in total. But elections officials for months have described challenges in getting commitments from poll workers, who tend to be older and therefore more susceptible to getting seriously ill from COVID-19. Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, has ordered local boards of elections to inventory their poll worker commitments by Aug. 1 and, if necessary, make contingency plans if there’s a shortage that forces them to close polling places. He’s also promoting early voting to help reduce Election Day lines, although his efforts to expand Ohio’s existing early voting laws have failed to gain traction in Ohio’s Republican-controlled legislature. “Normally, there are 4,000 polling places around the state. My hope is we can open all of those this November. But the hard reality is, if we don’t recruit enough poll workers, we won’t be able to,” LaRose said.

Ohio: Early voting, coronavirus forcing election boards to plan early | Bonnie Meibers/Dayton Daily News

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose sent a readiness plan for the November 2020 election to area counties, mandating they recruit more poll workers, get personal protective equipment and relocate polling locations for vulnerable populations, among other points. The Secretary of State’s Office will provide each county board of elections a block grant from the CARES Act. The amount will be determined by the number of registered voters in each county. No county will get less than $25,000. The CARES grant will be disbursed to each county in single up-front, lump sum amount. Each county board of elections is required to use this funding to implement the requirements of the directive given by LaRose’s office. Jan Kelly, director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, said Montgomery County will get about $433,000 to implement the various points in the directive. “We are very grateful to have the extra funds to procure the extra staff and supplies we’re going to need for this very, very special election,” Kelly said.

Ohio: Elections boards must email or call absentee voters who don’t provide identifying information | Rick Rouan/The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio elections officials must email or call voters who haven’t provided all the necessary information on absentee ballots for the general election in November, not just send them a notice in the mail. As the state prepares for a surge in voting by mail because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose issued a directive Monday outlining that and other steps that the local boards of elections must take for the fall election. The secretary of state’s office will send absentee ballot applications to about 8 million registered voters in the state, and LaRose has said Ohio could see an unprecedented number of votes cast by mail. The state conducted its primary almost entirely through the mail after polls were shut down hours before they were set to open March 17 to prevent the virus from spreading. Instead, the primary ran through late April, with most voters required to cast absentee ballots. State lawmakers so far have preserved in-person voting, with LaRose’s support, but lingering fears about spreading the coronavirus are expected to drive more Ohioans to cast absentee ballots.

Ohio: Task force fears poll workers won’t return in November | Chris Stewart/Dayton Daily News

Whether Ohio poll workers — often in their golden years — will show up to work in November if the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage was a topic of concern at a state election readiness task force meeting Thursday. “We need to emphasize to our Election Day volunteers, our elections workers, our poll workers, is we appreciate their support, their health is great, but do not make this commitment and then break it,” said Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. “Because just not showing up on Election Day morning is a highly irresponsible thing to do.” Some elections boards are conducting surveys of poll workers to find out if they remain willing to work if the virus continues to circulate. Elections boards and the Secretary of State’s office are also stepping up recruitment efforts to replace those who don’t return. Terry Burton, Wood County’s elections director and a guest speaker, told task force members the county surveyed workers to determine now if they will still serve if the pandemic worsens. “We’re trying to make sure that we figure out right up front what sort of numbers we’re looking at,” he said.

Ohio: Cybersecurity experts already see threats to voters in November elections | Larry Seward/WCPO

Ohio cybersecurity experts believe voters are vulnerable to threats as they prepare to cast their ballots in the November election. The Ohio Cyber Range Institute, based at the University of Cincinnati, is working on fighting those threats and protecting critical election infrastructure. As November approaches, Ohio Cyber Range researchers said they see two types of threats on the horizon: Voter manipulation through social media and efforts to fuel doubt in election results. “What we see behind the scenes are actors who are making certain things viral,” said Richard Harknett, the institute’s co-director and head of UC’s political science department. “They use ‘bot nets’ to drive likes and dislikes to get things in front of us that, really, the majority of people are not clicking on.” Harknett said he also believes Russia, China, North Korea and Iran are trying to leverage the coronavirus pandemic to create skepticism of election results by exploiting changes in vote-by-mail processes and delays. He said there is already evidence of this as results came in during May primaries.

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.

Ohio: House acts to block changes in Ohio election dates | Jim Provance/Toledo Blade

The Ohio House voted along party lines Thursday to prohibit the governor or any other elected or appointed official from altering the date, time, and manner of an election set in law. In so doing the House joins the Senate in responding to the decision by Gov. Mike DeWine and his health director, Dr. Amy Acton, to issue an emergency health order shutting down polling places just hours before they were to open for the primary election on March 17. The bill passed by a vote of 61-34 with Republicans in support and Democrats in opposition. Coming early in the state’s response to rising coronavirus infections, the governor’s unprecedented move was designed to reduce the threat of spread among voters and poll workers, many of whom are older Ohioans deemed at greater risk to complications from the disease. The bill leaves in place current authorization for a governor to postpone an election for up to six months in the case of an enemy attack.

Ohio: Lawmakers advance elections bill while removing language that rolled back early voting | Andrew J. Tobias/Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ohio lawmakers dramatically overhauled an elections bill on Wednesday, stripping controversial language that would have rolled back early voting for the November election. The House State and Local Government Committee on Wednesday voted 8-4 to advance an amended version of House Bill 680, referring it to the full House for approval. Republicans on the committee voted ‘yes,’ Democrats voted ‘no.’ Committee members removed language that would have prohibited Secretary of State Frank LaRose from sending unsolicited mail-in ballot applications to every registered voter in Ohio for the upcoming election, something that’s been done for every presidential and gubernatorial election since 2012. Instead, they authorized him to use federal funding to pay for the mailing, which will cost $1.3 million. Lawmakers also removed language that elections officials and voting-rights advocates believed would have eliminated early, in-person voting for the final three days before Election Day.

Ohio: State task force created to prepare for presidential election during pandemic | Lawrence Budd/Dayton Daily News

A bipartisan statewide commission has been formed by the Ohio Secretary of State to help prepare for the November presidential election. Warren County Board of Election director Brian Sleeth was named Tuesday by Secretary of State Frank LaRose to the Ready for November Task Force.“How are we going to have this intimate interaction with voters while keeping a six-foot distance?” Sleeth said.The task force will provide updates on how counties are preparing, hear from experts, learn from county elections administrators about their needs and requirements, develop “best practices” and study information about “the evolving health situation,” according to the announcement.Sleeth said he spoke with LaRose Tuesday during a brief overview and introduction about how to prepare voters and election officials for the election “with everything that’s changed” since COVID-19 altered the primary election day. The task force will also study the progress of Ohio House Bill 680, which includes provisions for the upc0ming election different than those planned by LaRose and calling for expansion of early voting. The law change would eliminate in-person early voting on Saturday, Sunday and Monday before the Tuesday, Nov. 3 election, offered since 2015, It would also end the mailing of unsolicited absentee ballot applications to all registered voters, which has been done since 2008.

Ohio: About 5,500 provisional ballots rejected because voters didn’t qualify to vote in person | Rick Rouan/The Columbus Dispatch

About 5,500 ballots that were cast in person on Ohio’s delayed primary election were not counted because the voters were neither disabled nor homeless and didn’t request an absentee ballot on time. That represented a small fraction of the 1.8 million ballots that were counted in the election. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose released the official results of the 2020 primary on Friday afternoon, about 2 1/2 months after Ohio’s originally scheduled March 17 Election Day. After the polls were closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, state lawmakers extended the election to April 28 and forced most voters to cast absentee ballots through the mail. It carved out two exceptions: voters who were disabled or did not have access to mail, mostly the homeless. But mail delays plagued the system, and some voters never received their ballots. Those who showed up at their Board of Elections on April 28 to cast an in-person provisional ballot had to certify that they fell into one of the two exempted categories. LaRose directed boards of elections not to count those who did not unless the board could verify that the voter had requested an absentee ballot ahead of the deadline at noon on April 25. Democrats in the Ohio General Assembly and voting rights advocates objected to that decision.

Ohio: The Buckeye State Readies for the Covid-Russia-Trump Election | Francis Wilkinson/Bloomberg

In an April poll, two-thirds of Americans said the coronavirus pandemic would “significantly disrupt” the election in November. In the same poll, nearly as many expressed confidence that “all citizens who want to vote in the election will be able to.” There may be some tension between those beliefs. “Even people with good intentions don’t know how hard it is to pull off an election,” said Jen Miller, executive director of the League of Women Voters in Ohio. “Pulling off an election” is the task of the elected officials, administrators and volunteers who make voting feasible in the nation’s 10,000 electoral jurisdictions. “Election policy and implementation are really complicated,” said Miller, who has been working on voting rights for 16 years and lobbying the Ohio legislature for nearly as long. “Most of the legislature, regardless of party, struggles to understand the realities of elections.” Those realities are quickly changing as the election comes under multiple threats. Well before the arrival of the novel coronavirus, U.S. intelligence agencies had already concluded that Russia is once again seeking to help elect Donald Trump and rattle public confidence in democracy, an effort that may include cyberattacks on election systems or related infrastructure. Likewise, Trump is once again spreading falsehoods about voter fraud in a parallel effort to undermine democratic faith.

Ohio: Secretary of State proposes changes for November vote | Segann March/Cincinnati Enquirer

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is hoping his proposed changes for November’s  election will help make the voting process more efficient for voters. After April’s extended primary election, many voters complained about the vote-by-mail only process, a decision made by the state to prevent the spread of COVID-19. LaRose believes his “tweaks” will benefit all parties on Nov. 3, but those ideas will have to pass through the General Assembly first. LaRose’s proposal calls for the state to set an earlier deadline to request an absentee ballot, allow voters to request ballots online instead of printing out a form that then has to be mailed and provide postage-paid envelopes to return those ballots. The goal of the first idea is to prevent voters from procrastinating. Postage-paid envelopes would eliminate the need to visit the post office if renewed virus-related restrictions become necessary. The idea behind the last proposal is to prevent the need to visit a post office if there are renewed virus-related restrictions on movements.

Ohio: Democrats call for streamlined ballot requests, expanded voter registration for November election | Andrew J. Tobias/Cleveland Plain Dealer

A group of elected Ohio Democrats are calling for expanded voter registration and streamlined ballot requests, among other policy changes, to help prepare the state for a November election that could be upended by coronavirus. The changes are meant to increase the number of Ohioans who vote early while reducing Election Day lines, something that will be helpful whether or not a second wave of coronavirus outbreaks lead to public-health restrictions that close polling places, the Democrats said. Typically, about one-third of voters in Ohio vote early, and Democrats say they’d like to see the number get closer to one-half. “We’re not saying this should be all-mail, and we’re not saying this should be all in-person,” said Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, an Akron Democrat. “What we are saying is we need to start preparing for every possible scenario, because we have no clue what October could look like.” Some of the proposals, like allowing people to apply online for mail-in ballots, providing postage-paid envelopes for applications and ballots, and increasing funding for local county elections offices, are supported by Republican Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. That sets up the possibility of a bipartisan coalition supporting elections changes in Ohio as it and likely other states debate expanding mail-in voting against the backdrop of risks posed by the coronavirus.

Ohio: Ohio’s election was a mess. It would be a disaster at the national level. | Stephen Stromberg/The Washington Post

The nightmare scenario for the November presidential vote is a larger repeat of Wisconsin’s chaotic and dangerous April state Supreme Court election, in which state Republican leaders risked the health of voters in search of partisan electoral advantage. The result was interminable polling-place lines and untold numbers of people deterred from voting. These consequences were widely predicted, and the voter suppression seemed to be the point. But there is another, perhaps more likely, model of pandemic election failure: that of Ohio, which completed its primary process on Friday. State officials fumbled into the vote, recognizing that covid-19 would force changes in voter behavior but failing to prepare for the strain those changes would put on their system. They failed to account for how preexisting problems with absentee-voting systems and antiquated voter rules would be amplified. The result was voter confusion, accounts of effective voter disenfranchisement and rock-bottom voter turnout.

Ohio: The Primary May Be Over For Voters, But It’s Just Getting Started For Boards Of Elections | Nick Robertson/WVXU

Even though Ohio’s primary ended April 28, the election isn’t over just yet. Results aren’t official until they are certified by the Hamilton County Board of Elections, and for them, the process is just getting started. On election night, the Board of Elections conducted an unofficial ballot count of all ballots received by mail and in-person, but many ballots were still on the way. They are now still accepting ballots until May 5, as long as they were postmarked before Election Day. Ballots from overseas and military voters will be accepted until May 8. Additionally, voters who did not present valid IDs when voting and submitted provisional ballots or had mislabeled absentee ballots have until May 5 to “cure” their ballots and ensure they are counted. Provisional ballots are ballots submitted by voters that had errors or could not be verified. According to Hamilton  County Board of Election Deputy Director Sally Krisel, common reasons for submitting provisional ballots are name changes, address changes, lack of valid ID, or requesting an absentee ballot and not receiving it in time.

Ohio: Secretary of State Frank LaRose outlines changes needed for general election | Rick Rouan/The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is all-in for in-person voting in November’s presidential election, but he is offering some “tweaks” he believes will make the general election smoother than the coronavirus-extended primary. The state needs to allow online requests for absentee ballots, provide postage-paid envelopes for both absentee ballots and requests, and set an earlier deadline for requesting absentee ballots to prepare for a potential increase in voters casting ballots by mail, he said. But it also needs to encourage boards of elections to consolidate polling places and step up its recruitment of poll workers for in-person voting even as it encourages voting by mail to stop the spread of COVID-19, he said. “In a usual year, I would not want to make large changes this late in the game, but this is not a usual year. These are unusual times. We have to respond to the unique situation we find ourselves in with these changes,” LaRose told The Dispatch on Tuesday.

Ohio: Democratic Lawmakers Propose Blockchain Voting in Elections Overhaul Bill | Danny Nelson/Yahoo News

Democrats in the Ohio House of Representatives have proposed launching a blockchain voting pilot for overseas military voters registered in the Buckeye State. Introduced Tuesday as part of the Democrats’ elections law overhaul, the bill calls on Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose to “establish a pilot program” of blockchain voting specifically for uniformed service members stationed outside the U.S. The bill was introduced by Reps. Beth Liston and Michele Lepore-Hagan, and cosponsored by 16 other Democrats. The proposal is unusually detailed on blockchain’s role. If passed, it would see military members transmit their ballots to election officials via “encrypted blockchain technology” that “protects the security and integrity of the process and protects the voter’s privacy.” The receiving board of elections would then print out that ballot “for counting purposes.”

Ohio: Lawmakers, secretary of state at odds over provisional ballot counts | Sarah Elms/Toledo Blade

Unless you have a disability, lack a permanent address, or properly requested an absentee ballot but never received it in the mail, your in-person vote in Ohio on April 28 won’t count. That’s according to a directive sent by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose on Friday to the state’s boards of elections. But three Democratic state lawmakers, including Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D., Toledo), argue that refusing to count all in-person ballots cast April 28, regardless of whether someone met one of those three criteria, disenfranchises voters. Ms. Hicks-Hudson on Monday called the secretary of state’s directive “an insult to the voters of Ohio,” while Mr. LaRose, a Republican, contends the very law she and her colleagues passed in March is what prevents some votes from being counted. She said there was widespread confusion among registered voters about how, when, and where to cast their ballots in Ohio’s first mail-in election after the in-person March 17 primary was called off because of coronavirus concerns. Many voters showed up to their respective boards of elections on April 28 believing that they could vote in person, just as they would have on March 17, she said.

Ohio: The never-ending primary election: it could have been worse, but fixes needed, elections officials say | Andrew J. Tobias/Cleveland Plain Dealer

In talking with people closely involved with Ohio’s finally concluded presidential primary election, here’s the best thing people most had to say about it. It wasn’t good. But it could have been much worse. “I wouldn’t want to do it again in that kind of timeframe, but we did it,” Llyn McCoy, director of the Greene County Board of Elections, said Wednesday. Ohio’s first vote-by-mail election concluded Tuesday, five weeks after Gov. Mike DeWine canceled in-person voting on March 17 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The problems that arose — and the degree to which things worked — will be studied as Ohio considers how to prepare for the possibility of another outbreak before the general election in November. The long Tuesday lines of voters at county boards of election feared by voting rights activists didn’t come to pass. Voter turnout was nowhere near this year’s early-voting states and way below Ohio’s 2016 primary, but similar to the 2012 presidential primary, which maybe isn’t that bad considering the circumstances. Efforts by the U.S. Postal Service to clear a bottleneck of mailed ballots seemed to have an effect, with tens of thousands of ballots arriving at county boards of elections on Tuesday, although it delayed the results well past midnight for larger counties.

Ohio: Primary marks a major test for mail-in voting | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Ohio will today hold its primary election almost entirely by mail  in what could be a model for the rest of the nation in November. The contest is a canary in the coal mine for more than a dozen states still planning presidential and state primaries this year. They’re aiming for either a fully vote-by-mail elections or for far more ballots than usual to be cast by mail. Today’s contest is also likely to guide officials as they plan for November’s presidential election, which could be similarly restricted by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Ohio aims to be a counterpoint to Wisconsin, where the Republican-led legislature blocked Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’s efforts to delay the April 7 primary contest, resulting in thousands of people not receiving absentee ballots and blocks-long lines outside polling places on Election Day. At least 40 Milwaukee residents who stood in line or worked the polls have since tested positive. The primary also takes place as New York, which has been ravaged by the coronavirus, yesterday canceled its primary. “What I saw from the outside looking in in Wisconsin looked very chaotic and candidly dangerous to me,” Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) told me. “I would not want that scenario in Ohio and I think we’ve taken the right steps to prevent it.”

Ohio: Mail-in primary tests voting during virus outbreak | Will Weisert and Julie Carr Smyth/Associated Pressa

The first major test of an almost completely vote-by-mail election during a pandemic is about to unfold in Ohio, offering lessons to other states about how to conduct one of the most basic acts of democracy amid a health crisis. The process hasn’t been smooth as state officials have navigated election laws and the need to protect citizens and poll workers from the coronavirus. Ohio’s in-person primary was delayed just hours before polls were supposed to open last month, prompting legal challenges and confusion. Tuesday’s election replacing it requires voters to run at least three pieces of mail — an application, a blank ballot and a completed one — through the U.S. Postal Service. With Joe Biden emerging as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, there’s little suspense in the results. Ohio’s vote is instead being closely watched as a case study for how to proceed with elections if the pandemic doesn’t ease. States have taken drastically different approaches, with Wisconsin proceeding with in-person voting earlier this month and New York saying Monday it would cancel its presidential primary, which was scheduled for June.

Ohio: Election may still draw thousands in person: ‘We don’t know what to expect’ | Chris Stewart/Dayton Daily News

Today’s primary election — postponed and shifted to mail-in voting because of the coronavirus pandemic — may still draw thousands of in-person voters, threatening the health of voters and elections workers. The unprecedented extension of the March primary — compounded by mail delays — has left voters confused and many potentially without ballots in hand to complete before yesterday’s postmark deadline.The result could be what officials hoped to avoid — long lines at county boards of elections, said Brian Sleeth, Warren County’s elections director.“I have to plan for one,” he said. “We’re in uncharted territory. It’s hard to tell. We have no data to compare how many people to expect tomorrow.” At least 36 people in Wisconsin tested positive for COVID-19 after reporting they voted in or worked the polls during that state’s controversial in-person election on April 7, according to news reports.