Today, Senator Nickie J. Antonio (Lakewood) sent the following letter to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, urging him to take action to address ongoing problems with Midwest Direct and late absentee ballots:
"Dear Secretary Larose, "I recently became aware that one of Ohio’s absentee ballot vendors, Midwest Direct, has thus far failed to provide ballots to tens of thousands of voters. We now know this vendor had contracted with at least 20 counties, many of which are now experiencing delays in sending out ballots.
"This vendor has also failed to be responsive throughout this potential crisis, leading to widespread confusion among local elections officials and voters that continues to unravel. "Tens of thousands of Ohioans will now be receiving their absentee ballots later than expected, giving them less time to vote. As Ohio’s top elections official, how will you hold this company accountable? And will you finally now allow counties to place additional secure drop boxes, in order to prevent congestion and confusion near the Boards of Elections (BOEs)? "The time for excuses and doublespeak is long past. I can think of no alternative explanation for your recent actions beyond a deliberate attempt to make voting in Ohio more difficult. I’m writing again to ask you to rectify this problematic situation while voting continues in Ohio amid the ongoing pandemic. Allow for additional drop boxes now. "As we have stated, and the courts have established multiple times, you currently possess the power to improve voting access in our state in several ways, including allowing for multiple secure ballot drop boxes per county. You have confirmed your understanding of this fact by using your power to allow multiple drop boxes outside BOE buildings, but nowhere else.
"As drop boxes provide a safe, secure alternative to in-person voting for Ohioans, your refusal to allow for additional drop boxes during a public health crisis continues to be mystifying. "You have also used your power to step in and actively block BOEs from placing additional drop boxes throughout the county. Cuyahoga County has 1.235 million people and 1,246 miles of land area. Their BOE not only unanimously voted on a bipartisan basis to place additional drop boxes throughout the county, they laid out a full plan for the drop box locations (six libraries and Campus International High School) and the bipartisan teams that would be deployed to monitor the boxes and ensure all ballots are securely deposited. "The only barrier preventing Cuyahoga County from implementing this plan is you. Three separate courts have already handed down rulings affirming your authority to allow multiple drop boxes. You have refused to follow it. The ability of thousands of Ohioans to exercise their constitutional right to vote may well sit at your feet. "I urge you to let Ohio’s people vote. Precious time has already been wasted. Let your legacy be one of removing barriers and guaranteeing a safe, secure, accessible election in Ohio. Sincerely, Senator Nickie J. Antonio" Senator Nickie Antonio represents the 23rd Ohio Senate District and serves as Campaign Chair for the Ohio Senate Democrats.