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LaRose cuts vote counting time, Lawmakers seek answers

Ballot printer delays may add to time needed to count ballots
October 20, 2020
Paula Hicks-Hudson News

COLUMBUS— State Representatives Paula Hicks-Hudson (D - Toledo), Catherine D. Ingram (D-Cincinnati), Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown), and Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) wrote a letter to Secretary of State Frank LaRose asking him to account for a directive he issued late Friday afternoon. The directive cuts off six days of vote counting time that counties might need to finish the count. It moves the deadline from November 24 to November 18 for counties to complete the official canvass.

On election night, counties release unofficial initial vote counts. Provisional ballots and later-arriving absentee ballots are counted and included in the official canvass required by state law to begin between November 14 and November 18 and be completed by November 24. ORC 3505.32(A).

See the letter below:

October 20, 2020

Dear Secretary LaRose,

We are in receipt of your latest newsletter from over the weekend that was sent to the Ohio House of Representatives. In it, you mention your newest Directive 2020-23, but you do not mention that it shortens the time to count the votes. This late Friday afternoon directive to the county boards of elections - sent just a few weeks before Election Day - cuts off six days from the time the counties have under law to complete the official vote count. With all of the problems we’ve seen around the state from ballot delays to people getting the wrong ballots and needing a replacement ballot in some cases, we are likely to see more ballots arriving in the 10-day window after Election Day. Our boards of elections will need time to process and count all of these ballots. We need your assurance that you are giving the counties enough time to count every vote in light of the large number of mail-in ballots. You cannot end the official canvass of the votes before every vote is counted.

Your office’s newsletter highlights a lot of tweets and interviews you’ve done. But nowhere in this missive was any detail about how many Ohio voters are still being impacted by the delays of Midwest Direct and what your office is doing about it. This lack of response is unacceptable. Your office has a duty to investigate election problems and provide answers to the people. When will every single ballot that Midwest Direct contracted to deliver be delivered? How do these delays impact the expected number of ballots that will be received after Election Day?

Secretary LaRose, please explain why you’ve cut off time for counting votes and how this is in the interest of Ohio’s voters. And please confirm that any board that needs more time to count the votes beyond your newly imposed deadline will be granted the needed time. 

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

Sincerely,

Paula Hicks-Hudson

State Representative, District 44

Chair, House Democratic Caucus COVID-19 Elections Working Group 

Michele Lepore-Hagan

State Representative, District 58

Catherine D. Ingram

State Representative, District 32

Bride Rose Sweeney

State Representative, District 14