Ohio Officials Must Protect Voters’ and Poll Workers’ Rights and Health Amid Coronavirus Concerns

Voter rights advocates call for necessary steps ahead of March 17 primary election

COLUMBUS—A coalition of voter rights organizations urged Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Frank LaRose to take additional steps to protect voters’ and poll workers’ health and rights for the March 17 primary election. The letter, signed by sixteen groups, requests that the state extend early in-person voting hours, allow late-arriving absentee ballots to be counted, and ensure polling locations are set up to ensure health and safety for everyone, amid growing concerns about coronavirus.

“Officials must act today to protect voters who do not wish to cast a ballot in-person on Election Day,” said Mike Brickner, Ohio state director for All Voting is Local. “Election officials should expand hours for early in-person voting this weekend, remove all restrictions on accepting late-arriving absentee ballots, and call voters immediately if there are any issues with absentee ballot applications. The right to vote and participate in elections is fundamental to our democracy, and election officials have an obligation to safeguard that right, even in times of emergency.”

“With large numbers of Ohioans set to go to the polls next week, it is paramount that state officials take additional steps to ensure voters and poll workers are protected,” said Camille Wimbish, election administration director for the Ohio Voter Rights Coalition. “All poll locations should be cleaned frequently, equipped with sanitizing products, and instructions to keep voters waiting in line and casting ballots at least six feet apart.”  

“For Ohio to truly be healthy and vibrant, we need strong elections with robust turnout,” said Jen Miller, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. “We collectively call for these changes, so that every eligible Ohioan has an adequate opportunity to have their voice heard, despite unprecedented health concerns.”

Organizations who signed the letter include: African American Ministers In Action, All Voting is Local – Ohio, America Votes, Andrew Goodman Foundation, A. Philip Randolph Institute, Campaign Legal Center, Campus Vote Project, Common Cause Ohio, Fair Elections Center, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, League of Women Voters Ohio, Miami Valley Voter Protection Coalition, Ohio Council of Churches, Ohio Voice, Ohio Votes, Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio.

Link to letter: here