Today, Senator Nickie J. Antonio released the following statement, condemning a vote by Republican members of the Controlling Board to force Ohioans to pay return postage on absentee ballots:
Part of our job as legislators is to remove barriers to voting. But today, several of my Republican colleagues voted to add a new one.
"I am especially disappointed that this vote failed on party lines. Making it easier to vote should not be a partisan issue - so why were my Democratic colleagues, Senator Vernon Sykes and Representative Jack Cera, the only ones who stood up for Ohioans' rights today?
"Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who is Ohio's top elections official and himself a Republican, made an incredibly convincing case for paying for return postage on ballots.
"Due to the ongoing pandemic, many voters will feel their only option this year is to vote absentee. Those Ohioans will likely now be forced to pay a fee before they can exercise their right to vote. This is an extremely disheartening move by the Republican Controlling Board members.
"Our only hope now is that Secretary of State LaRose will choose to exercise his existing power to pay return postage on ballots with CARES Act funding. As we have made clear to Secretary LaRose multiple times, he could take this action immediately, without Statehouse approval, to improve voting for Ohioans.
"The Statehouse majority has failed, so Secretary of State LaRose must step up to lead."