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Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose urges voters to 'request your absentee ballot right away' on the TODAY Show

LaRose recommends voters mail in absentee ballots well ahead of November 2 due to concerns over the USPS not being able to deliver them to election officials on time
Credit: Today Show
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose talks about voting by mail in Ohio on the Today Show on August 15, 2020.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has advised Ohioans who are voting by mail to request and send their absentee ballots in well ahead of the state's usual deadlines, due to concerns over delays in delivery as the United States Postal Service undergoes a drastic reorganization at a time when voting by mail is expected to double in the state due to COVID-19 safety concerns.

Ohio was one of dozens of states to receive a letter from the USPS warning that the federal agency may not be able to meet state deadlines for delivery of ballots to county boards of elections.

Appearing on the Today Show on Saturday, LaRose said: "What we need to remind every Ohioan is: Do not delay, request your absentee ballot right away."

LaRose also stressed that poll workers are needed, and asked people to considered signing up to fill one of those 35,000 roles.

When asked about adding additional drop boxes for absentee ballots beyond those which already exist at each county board of elections office, LaRose said "the best plan is to get a stamp and mail your ballot in," but to do it as early as possible.

"I expanded drop boxes in Ohio," LaRose said. "Just a few months ago there were only a handful in the state. Now every county has one. I'd love to see more, but the fact is, as an executive office holder, I've got to carry out the law. Not make it. 

"The state legislature has not authorized us to further expand the drop box program, so that's a great backup plan but really the first priority should be mailing in your absentee ballot and doing it as soon as you can."

LaRose reminded Ohio voters that all registered voters will be mailed an absentee ballot request form right around Labor Day weekend, that needs to be returned to the county board of elections office in order to receive an actual ballot to vote by mail.

"They should return it right away so that they can make their voice heard this November," LaRose said.

This comes as President Donald Trump has made unverified claims about widespread voter fraud related to voting by mail, which LaRose said is not an issue in Ohio.

"Ohioans know that our absentee ballot program is trustworthy," LaRose said. "Republicans and Democrats have trusted it for close to 20 years. Our bipartisan county boards of elections administer it and there are important safeguards in place."

Those safeguards included signature and voter identification checks at two points in the process, and a tracking system for both absentee ballot request forms and actual ballots through VoteOhio.gov.

LaRose asked Ohioans who take advantage of absentee voting to also considered working as a poll worker, 

"Since you've already voted, sign up to be a poll worker," LaRose said. "We badly need 35,000 Ohioans to sign up for this important duty of working as a election day poll worker so we can make sure that election day voting is available for all Ohioans that want to use that as well."

Those interested can get more information about working the polls on election day here.

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