How should Ohioans vote in the fall if coronavirus is still a threat?

Democrats across Ohio are asking state leaders to make it easier to vote early or by mail for the general election in case the coronavirus again disrupts voting.

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Democrats across Ohio are asking state leaders to make it easier to vote early or by mail for the general election in case the coronavirus again disrupts voting.

Democrats across Ohio called on state leaders to act now to expand early voting for the November general election in case the pandemic again disrupts in-person voting.

Ohio needs to “prepare for every single scenario,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

The coronavirus spread led state officials to abruptly close polling locations just hours before in-person voting was to begin for the March 17 election.

State lawmakers agreed to extend voting by mail to April 28 for the primary but just less than 23% of Ohioans cast ballots, local elections officials were overwhelmed by the change and the tight timetable and thousands of voters reported that they never received their ballots.

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“That should embarrass us all,” said Columbus City Councilwoman Liz Brown.

Public health experts have warned that the coronavirus could return in waves of outbreaks through the fall.

“We can see that there is an issue coming. Let’s address this now,” said House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, D-Akron.

Whaley said Ohio needs an “all of the above” plan to allow for in-person voting, expanded early voting and easier voting by mail.

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In a May 11 letter to Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Gov. Mike DeWine, House Speaker Larry Householder, Senate President Larry Obhof and others, the Democrats called for:

— Funding for county boards of elections to open more early voting centers and expand weekend voting hours;

— Expand curbside ballot drop off options to early vote centers and Election Day polling locations;

— Recruit young people to work the polls and require masks;

— Include paid return postage for absentee applications and ballots;

— Allow voters to request absentee ballots online, instead of only by mail;

— Allow community organizations, unions and trusted helpers to deliver absentee ballots, rather than just family members;

— Extend voter registration to as late as Election Day; and

— Count ballots postmarked by Election Day, eliminate some of the reasons used to reject absentee ballots and use better voter signature verification methods.

Related: Ohio's primary election draws turnout below 23 percent

“We are happy to review those suggestions. It is also a good time to point out, that Ohio has some of the most voter friendly laws in the country which already includes 28 days of early voting, either by mail or in person,” said John Fortney, spokesman for Obhof.

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LaRose has recommended Ohio change its law to allow for online requests for absentee ballots as well as provide pre-paid postage for both requests and ballot returns. He also recommended increasing younger poll workers, boosting personnel at boards of elections, and sending absentee ballot requests to all registered voters.

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