Voting changes in the making

As Miami Valley voters went to the polls for the Primary Election Tuesday, a plan to make changes in the process inched closer to being introduced at the Ohio Statehouse.

The plan’s key supporter is the chief elections officer of the state, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. In an interview with News Center 7 Tuesday, LaRose said the changes have been mischaracterized by critics as “voter suppression.”

Instead, LaRose views them as streamlining the process to help local county election boards.

A first step would be to eliminate the Monday before Election Day as a day of early voting. LaRose said the hours of voting are not being eliminated, they are being moved to another day.

“Let’s take those six hours and put them into the weekend when it’s easier for people to vote anyway and we don’t have the problem of the boards of election trying to get everything set up. Common sense change by now means “voter suppression.” But unfortunately some have started using words like that,” LaRose said.

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Another issue being dealt with in the yet-to-be-introduced proposal, ballot drop boxes.

LaRose wants drop boxes to be located only at the county board of elections offices. The Ohio League of Women Voters said that is too restrictive. “We should have multiple drop boxes per county,” said Jen Miller, LWV President.

Miller also is promoting the idea of more than one place for people to cast an early ballot before Election Day.

“We should have multiple early vote centers in the Dayton area. Many centers in the Dayton area had long lines, over two hours long. If its that popular, give people the freedom to vote that way, by having some of the locations close to where they are,” Miller said.

LaRose’s plan also includes creation of a new on-line system for requesting an absentee ballot. If state lawmakers go along with the plan, LaRose said it will be much faster.