AP NEWS

Ohio elections chief says postal office holding up voting

April 23, 2020 GMT

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose pleaded with the state’s congressional delegation Thursday for help speeding up mail processing ahead of Tuesday’s nearly all-mail primary election.

The Republican elections chief told senators and representatives in a letter that the United States Postal Service is taking far longer to deliver articles of mail than it advertises — sometimes 7 to 9 days, rather than 1 to 3 days.

The state is “faced with an obstacle that is outside of our control,” LaRose wrote, adding, ”As you can imagine, these delays mean it is very possible that many Ohioans who have requested a ballot may not receive it in time.”

Ohio postponed in-person voting scheduled for March 17 amid the coronavirus pandemic and extended voting, mostly by mail, to this coming Tuesday. That’s put pressure on a mail-in voting system that’s been criticized by voting rights groups for being unduly laborious. For most voters, casting a mail-in absentee ballot requires three separate postal transactions, as ballots are requested by mail, received back by mail, and returned by mail.

LaRose wrote that he’d like the Postal Service to:

— Assign additional staff and encourage extra hours, including this Saturday and Sunday;

— Work immediately to identify what’s causing the delivery problems; and

— Conduct a thorough search of postal facilities for unprocessed mail.

A message was left for a Postal Service spokesman seeking comment.

LaRose spokesman Jon Keeling said representatives were already beginning to respond to the letter, agreeing to push for LaRose’s suggested remedies.