Ohio's elections chief to mail absentee ballot applications to voters ahead of fall election



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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio voters with up-to-date addresses will soon get an absentee ballot application for the November election.

Residents should start receiving the applications around Labor Day, Secretary of State Jon Husted announced.

Voters can cast an absentee ballot by mail or in person without giving any reason.

During the last presidential election, 6.9 million residents received applications from the state. About 1.3 million Ohioans voted by mail, while another 600,500 voted early in person.

The 2012 mailings came after Husted initially barred counties from sending out unsolicited absentee applications to voters. He had said it led to a disparity in voter access and he wanted all 88 counties to follow the same procedures.

In prior elections, primarily the state's larger, urban counties mailed voters the applications without residents having to request the paperwork. Cuyahoga County officials had threatened to defy Husted's order in 2012, and the parties came to an agreement over the mailings.

"Our commitment to treating all voters fair and equally, regardless of where a person lives in the state, gives every Ohioan the same access to the ballot," Husted, a Republican, said in a statement released Wednesday.

Husted's office estimates that this year's mailings will cost $1 million, which will be paid for with federal funding from the Help America Vote Act.

The applications will first go out to more than 6 million active voters, including those who cast a ballot in the 2010 or 2012 statewide elections. The voter must have had a current address on file with the board of elections as of Aug. 1. Another round of applications will be sent in early October to those who register to vote or update their information after Aug. 1.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly will have greater authority over the mailings for future elections.

State lawmakers passed a bill in February that restricts who could end the applications and when.

Under the law, only the secretary of state could mail unsolicited absentee ballot applications for general elections and only if the Legislature directed the money for it. Other public officials would be banned from sending unsolicited applications to voters.

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