Empirically, it is easier to vote in Ohio than at any time in state history.
Our 216 hours of early voting rank us ahead of 43 states. We’re one of 20 states with Saturday voting and one of just five that allow Sunday voting.
The Brookings Institute ranked Ohio ahead of every other state that offers a traditional absentee voting system. On top of that, for the first time ever in a general election, each one of Ohio’s 88 counties are required to have a secure receptacle, or drop box, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Voting will happen on Election Day, and it will be safe because we worked with the CDC and Ohio Department of Health to develop and implement a 61-point Voter and Poll Worker Safety & Health Plan. In partnership with Ohio businesses like Cleveland’s own RB Sigma and Anheuser-Busch in Columbus, important PPE resources made their way to our county boards of elections and our teams are ready to go.
When Congress allocated $12.8M to Ohio specifically for elections-related expenses through CARES Act, we took the extraordinary step of sending nearly 90% of our allocation straight to the county boards of elections so they could hire temporary personnel, obtain mail-handling equipment in anticipation of a higher level of votes arriving by mail, and order the PPE they require. Not only does this funding help keep Ohioans safe, it boosts each county’s ability to process and manage the expected massive influx of absentee ballots. The rest of the federal dollars? I worked to make sure almost all of it went to making sure every registered Ohioan received an absentee ballot request form in their mailbox.
As a result, record numbers of Ohio voters are casting their ballots early. In fact, “record-breaking” doesn’t even do justice to what we’ve seen. Ohio voters have blown away all previous records for early and absentee voting.
As of the writing of this column, 2.2 million voters have already cast their ballot. That’s 16% more than what we saw from early and absentee voting in all of 2016.
The very foundation of our government relies on the confidence of voters. If voters don’t trust that their election is legitimate, then the elected leaders can’t effectively govern. Here in Ohio, by the millions, voters have shown they trust how we run our elections. Ohioans aren’t listening to the fear mongers who are trying to convince them that it’s hard to vote – they’re proving it’s easy with every record broken.
When every vote is counted – and, as I’ve been saying for months, that doesn’t just mean the votes counted on election night – and the dust settles, Ohioans will know that this was a safe, secure, accurate and accessible election; and then I hope they’ll join me at the Statehouse to work with the legislature to make our great system even better. That’s where laws are changed, not in courtrooms.
Ohio, if you haven’t yet voted in this election, be sure to make your voice heard on Tuesday. Voting is safe. The poll workers are trained and ready. The only person who can stop you from voting is you.
Frank LaRose is the Ohio Secretary of State.