Lawmakers extend overseas absentee ballots deadline


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Overseas absentee ballots could arrive up to 20 days after Ohio’s primary election and still be counted under emergency legislation approved by the General Assembly Thursday amid debate over new state legislative maps.

The measure headed to GOP Gov. Mike DeWine also requires those ballots—mostly for members of the military—to be ready no later than April 4, 29 days before the May primary. DeWine’s expected to sign the bill.

The legislation includes $200,000 to help expedite the overseas ballots, including pre-paid postage. Republicans approved the measure over protests by Democrats, who argued the primary itself should be moved.

Normally, those ballots would be available by March 19, or 45 days before the primary. Last week, the U.S. Defense Department denied a request by Ohio Elections Chief Frank LaRose to waive the March 19 deadline by which overseas ballots must be mailed.

Subsequent conversations involving LaRose, the Defense Department and the Justice Department will permit the change, LaRose spokesperson Rob Nichols said Thursday.

County election officials have raised questions about their ability to carry out a successful primary election on May 3, citing the already tight timeline due to the still-unresolved redrawing of state legislative maps.

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Associated Press

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