VOICES: Mail-in voting safe, despite what Trump says. Just ask Ohio’s Republican secretary of state

Coronavirus safety measures are added at Montgomery Co. early vote center and voters must wear masks

Note: U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, shared his thought on mail-in voting at the request of Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson.

In the middle of a pandemic, we need to give Ohioans as many safe and convenient ways to vote as possible. You should not have to risk your health and safety to exercise your right to vote.

This isn’t a partisan issue — it’s about everyone, of every party and no party at all, having a voice in our government.

Sen. Sherrod Brown. AP Photo

I ran Ohio’s elections for eight years as secretary of state, and I can tell you that mail-in voting is safe and secure. Countless studies have proven that widespread voter fraud is a myth.

President Trump votes by mail — in fact he did just that in Florida’s primary earlier this spring. But that hasn’t stopped him from spreading lies about nonexistent voter fraud. Even Ohio’s current Republican secretary of state knows they’re lies. When asked about the president’s attacks he said, “I can tell you that’s not the case in Ohio … we’ve been doing vote-by-mail for a long time. We know how to do it, and we know how to get it done securely.”

These lies aren’t about protecting voters, they’re about justifying partisan voter suppression, plain and simple. And we know who that suppression is always aimed at — it’s people of color, it’s young people, it’s people who work long hours for too little pay. In Ohio, we’ve watched GOP politicians in Columbus make it harder for Ohioans to vote year after year — by eliminating Golden Week, which allowed voters to register and vote on the same day; by purging qualified voters off the election rolls; and through partisan redistricting that puts power in the hands of a few politicians, rather than with the voters.

ExploreWhen it comes to the election, many people aren’t upset or perturbed. They are angry.

It doesn’t have to be that way, and it hasn’t always been.

When I was running our elections, we tried to reach people wherever we could — we even convinced Bob Evans and McDonald’s to print registration forms on their placemats and tray-liners. Boards of election in all 88 counties accepted them, ketchup stains and all.

We need that same kind of thinking today.

ExploreVOICES: Postal service vital for veterans and voters now more than ever

We must expand options for all Ohioans to cast their ballots. I led the entire Ohio Democratic Congressional Delegation in asking current Secretary of State Frank LaRose to increase the number of ballot drop boxes and to provide paid postage for all mail-in ballots. We must also make sure the United States Postal Service has the resources and infrastructure it needs to handle Ohioans’ ballots, along with their packages and their prescription drugs.

Our democracy is stronger when everyone participates. My message to Ohioans is simple: vote. Your vote will be safe and secure. Your vote will be counted. Your vote matters.

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