Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced Friday that the U.S. Defense Department has granted Ohio’s request to postpone sending out military and overseas primary ballots because of ongoing redistricting delays. (Robin Goist, cleveland.com)
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The U.S. Department of Defense has signed off on Ohio’s request to allow elections officials to mail military ballots as late as April 5 with expedited postage, Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office announced Friday.
The Defense Department’s approval of the changes came just in time, as Friday had been the deadline for military ballots to be sent out. However, state lawmakers passed legislation moving that deadline back because of the Republicans’ ongoing battle with the Ohio Supreme Court over redistricting.
Under the new law, Senate Bill 11, Ohioans in the military and other overseas voters will get an additional 10 days the deadline for those ballots to be returned, if they are mailed prior to the close of polls on May 3, Ohio’s primary election day, LaRose wrote in a letter to Gov. Mike DeWine and legislative leaders.
However, the date of the primary remains up in the air after the Supreme Court rejected GOP officials’ legislative redistricting proposal for a third time on Wednesday. DeWine and legislative Republicans said that means legislative primaries, at least, won’t be able to be held on May 3, though no plan has yet been put forward to address that problem.
Following the court’s ruling, LaRose — a Republican and a U.S. Army Special Forces Green Beret — ordered county elections officials to not mail any ballots despite the Friday deadline in state law, saying he was finalizing the deal with the Pentagon.
However, LaRose added in the letter, “Even with this new delay caused by the court’s decision, I anticipate that it can still happen well in advance of the new April 5 deadline created by this agreement and SB11.”
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