Concerns About Mail-In Voting Persist, Despite Reassurances
Ohio voters who want to mail in their ballots might be concerned when they hear about recent changes made by the U.S. Postal Service or when they read President Trump’s Twitter feed. But Ohio’s election system has checks and balances in place to protect mail in voters. In the first of a two-part series, Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports.
After reports that sorting machines were being taken apart and mailboxes were being removed, U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was called to a Congressional hearing. And he made this vow to Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat of Arizona:
"Senator, I promise you, we are not making any more changes until after the election."
Recently, Dejoy sent a letter to elections leaders around the country, saying those changes, which were designed to save the agency money, could make it impossible to deliver ballots on time. All of this has raised questions with members of Congress who are now investigating DeJoy and recent actions at the postal service. That, coupled with President Trump's unfounded claims that mail in ballots could be a vehicle for Democrats to commit voter fraud, has made some voters question whether it is safe.
The head of Ohio’s elections system says they shouldn’t worry. Secretary of State Frank LaRose got DeJoy's letter, and says there are many safeguards built into the state's system that protect voters who cast ballots by mail.
“In Ohio, it’s a great way to vote. You can track your ballot so you know it is safely received back at the board of elections.”
LaRose, a Republican, has been under fire from Democrats and some voter rights groups for not installing more ballot boxes where voters can put their completed ballots, circumventing the postal system all together. LaRose says he doesn’t have the legal authority to do that without legislative approval.
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper thinks LaRose could allow those boxes to be set up immediately, and the party has filed a lawsuit to decide that. Pepper has also filed complaints with some county prosecutors, asking them to file felony charges against President Trump.
“For Donald Trump to admit last week that his goal in what he is doing in the post office is to hurt the delivery of absentee ballots, he literally just admitted to breaking the law in the state of Ohio.”
An elections law professor at Ohio State University’s College of Law, Steve Huefner, says the election law Pepper says Trump is breaking is hard to prove at this point.
“It would be a hard case for a prosecutor to make at this point to show that President Trump and all of the statements he’s been making about problems with mail in voting and other things that he has said that relate to that to say that he was knowingly doing it to hinder the delivery of an absent voter’s ballot.”
None of the prosecutors in Ohio who were asked to take a look at Pepper’s complaint have filed charges at this point but at least 20 Democratic attorneys general throughout the country have.