COLUMBUS, Ohio — A proposal by Ohio’s elections chief to attach postage to every mail-in ballot has failed to gain crucial approval.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s fellow Republicans on the powerful Controlling Board led the charge against him Monday by voting 4-2 along party lines to reject the request.
The Controlling Board is a board consisting of seven members, including one majority member and one minority member appointed by the House and Senate, that handles adjustments to the state budget.
The move makes it all but impossible for ballots to be stamped in time for November's election. The panel's GOP members argued LaRose first needed legislative authority to stamp the ballots.
Meanwhile, Ohio House Democrats, including Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson, D-Toledo, came out with harsh words about the decision while calling on LaRose to take action.
“Today, the Republican leadership on the Controlling Board and the Republican SOS's lack of leadership as the duly constitutional election official resulted in a no vote to pay for postage for returning ballot results in a form of a 2020 style poll tax against voter access. We cannot turn our back on the sacred and precious act of voting,” Hicks-Hudson said.
LaRose requested the use of funds to cover postage to the Controlling Board back in August. At the time, he came out publicly saying he didn't want voters t pay for postage on their absentee ballots.
The secretary issued a statement Monday, lamenting the board's decision.
“Ohio has a sound elections system, but today was another missed opportunity by the legislature to make a small change, without an impact on our state budget, that would yield a big improvement," LaRose's statement read. "Ohio voters have 216 hours to vote early in person from Oct. 6 through Nov. 2, 13 hours to vote on Election Day, or they can request an absentee ballot by mail and it will be sent to them beginning Oct. 6. Make a plan. Don’t procrastinate. Make sure your voice is heard."
Democrats in the state legislature weren't the only ones to call out the board's decision. U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, said the rejection of a measure to make it easier and safer for voters in Ohio to cast their ballots was "out of touch."
"The fact that Republicans rejected the proposal during a Zoom meeting is painfully ironic. It is incumbent upon us to break down barriers to voting so that every Ohioan who wants to cast a ballot can do so. Cost must never be a barrier for a person to exercise their constitutionally protected right to vote. I will never stop fighting for fairer and safer elections," Kaptur said.