The Cuyahoga County Elections Board kicked off an absentee voting campaign Thursday by asking more than 400 local organizations to place an application link on their websites. The vote-by-mail campaign is in response to Secretary of State Jon Husted’s directive Aug. 22 forbidding county boards of elections from mailing unsolicited ballot applications. This is a way to broaden the outlets through which voters can access applications.
County election officials said in a news release that they expect to reach thousands of voters by having organizations post application links. Voters who don’t have computer access can call the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections at 216-443-3298 to request a ballot application. Applications are also available at libraries and online.
Jane Platten, executive director of the county Board of Elections, said staff members sent the web link to every mayor, city council member and library in the county, hoping they will post an icon on their home pages. The board is also targeting major employers, such as MetroHealth Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic.
About 47 percent of the more than 416,000 Cuyahoga County residents who voted in the 2010 general election cast absentee ballots. The board regularly mailed applications to about 650,000 active voters and paid for the return postage for completed applications. The board also paid for postage on ballots.
County Executive Ed FitzGerald, who clashed with Husted over the directive, said he hopes the program is “a reasonable facsimile of the way it used to work.”
“We’re trying to be as creative as we can to have as wide a dispersal of the absentee ballot application as we can, without mailing them,” FitzGerald said.