Some voters report problems in mailing absentee-ballot applications, but Ohio elections officials say they are sparse and that postal workers are making efforts to prevent them.
Chase Waits of Delaware County sent an email to The Dispatch to say that two weeks after he sent in his application, he found it returned to his mailbox.
“I took it to my post office, and was told that it was the second one they had seen that day, that the way the envelope is designed makes their machines read the return address as the delivery address,” Waits said, adding that when he tried to again mail the application, it was again returned.
Post office personnel and the office of Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, which administers elections, told Waits they had received other complaints.
Similar problems have popped up in Akron, the Beacon Journal reported. And more widespread problems have occurred in the Youngstown area, the Vindicator reported.
The problems in Delaware County made Waits suspicious.
“It is widely accepted that the majority of early voters lean Democrat,” he said. “I find it concerning that Husted is running for lieutenant governor as a Republican and his office has provided envelopes to all registered voters that in effect will cause the request for an absentee ballot to go unanswered, and may not give them enough time to vote for their preferred candidate.”
But, Sam Rossi of the secretary of state’s office said the absentee applications sent to all 7.9 million Ohio voters are identical to the ones used in past elections. They were approved by the U.S. Postal Service.
Rossi added that problems lie not with the envelopes, but with the way some postal service personnel are handling them.
“The postal service is aware of this and they’re working to correct it,” Rossi said.
Postal service spokesman David G. Van Allen said his agency is on the case.
“As soon as we became aware that a few requests for ballots were returned to the senders, we ensured the mail was processing correctly and initiated a contingency plan to address the anomaly,” he said in an email.
Rossi said that problems in Mahoning County were due to the fact that the county’s board of elections sent the secretary of state the wrong zip code for the return address on the applications. Elections officials and postal workers are making efforts to fix that problem, the Vindicator reported.
With absentee voting starting Oct. 10, “folks have more than enough time to request an absentee ballot,” Rossi said.
He encouraged people having difficulties to contact their local boards of elections or go to the secretary of state’s website at myohiovote.com. Van Allen said people can also hand their applications to clerks at any post office.