FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
COLUMBUS, Ohio – In the wake of delay of the scheduled March 17 primary election and the associated chaos caused by the on-again, off-again announcements, the Libertarian Party of Ohio is calling for more flexible voting provisions to ensure that every Ohioan has a fair and equal chance to cast a ballot. The party is asking that the deadline for absentee ballots be extended until May 12, that new absentee ballots be available on request under the usual rules with postage-paid return envelopes included, and that on-site voting be available at each county’s board of elections.
Ohio’s primary election, scheduled for yesterday, was postponed on Monday by Gov. Mike DeWine in a back and forth process between the governor, the courts, and the state board of health. The governor made his initial announcement at a press conference at 2 pm on Monday, but said he was moving for the delay in court since he lacked the authority to do so on his own. The courts denied his request, whereupon the governor and his director of the board of health moved on their own anyway to postpone voting in the wee hours before voting was to begin. Many voters remained unsure of whether the election was off or on past the time for polls to be open.
“These provisions are necessary to ensure that voting this year will be safe and available to all,” said Harold Thomas, Chair of the LPO Central Committee. “Extending the deadline for absentee voting protects the rights of the voter to make his or her voice heard, especially under conditions in which many voters, especially the elderly or infirm, may hesitate to venture away from home for weeks to come. This deadline is also key for our party, as our national convention will be held early this year, from May 21 to 25. Making new absentee ballots complements that, and providing postage-paid return envelopes means the voter can put the ballot in the mailbox for easy return.”
Acknowledging that even in these times of social distancing, some voters may still want the option to cast votes in person, Thomas explained that onsite voting at boards of election is also important. “We understand that there is some slight risk in any in-person meetings these days,” he said. “But the danger is really no greater than doing the grocery shopping that most of us must do to eat. The option should be open, with appropriate measures taken to minimize hazard to voters and election staff.”
“There is no right more central to American citizenship than the right to vote,” said Thomas. “And government has no duty more important than assuring that that right is protected. Libertarians see these provisions as the barest minimum necessary to protect this right. The state government made this mess. Now is their chance to correct it, and to begin to rebuild voters’ faith in the process.”