The state of Ohio will spend $1 million to ask voters if they want to cast their ballots later this year from the comfort and convenience of their own homes.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted plans to send an application for an absentee ballot to all 6 million registered voters in the state.
“We want to make sure that voters in every county vote by the same set of rules,” said Husted, who noted that in previous years some counties sent out the absentee applications, while others did not.
The letters will go out following the Labor Day weekend. Husted called the move a good investment because it will help eliminate long lines at polling places on Election Day. Funding for the mailing is provided through the federal Help America Vote Act.
“In the end, we can make voting more convenient, and we only do this in the major elections,” Husted said.
The only other time applications went out statewide from the Secretary of State was for the 2012 presidential election. That cost $1.4 million.
According to Husted, a record 1.26 million people cast ballots by mail in 2012 and 600,500 voted early in person.
Voters who receive the application letter need only to fill it out and return it to request an absentee ballot. Jan Kelly, the director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, supports the mailing despite the cost.
“I like the continuity of sending one application to everyone,” Kelly said. “It gives everybody an opportunity.”
While the applications come from the state, the forms that are filled out by voters will go to local boards of election.
“When we get the application, we will scan it, verify the information and send them a ballot,” Kelly said. “Please fill it out in full.”
A second round of mailings will come in October to accommodate voters who are newly registered or change their address after Aug. 1.
The state also has opened an online change-of-address system for voters at www.MyOhioVote.com.
Husted said the goal of the mailings and other changes is to make Ohio one of the easiest states in the country to take part in the election, whether by mail, early in person or on Election Day.
“Perhaps the only other issue that the voters will quarrel with is the lack of good candidates to vote for, and I can’t do anything about that,” Husted said.