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Opinion: Butler Co. uncounted ballots is voter suppression

August 28, 2020

Kathy Wyenandt Opinion Contributor

In Butler County, where I live and vote, the Ohio Secretary of State’s office reports 768 absentee ballots from our primary election were uncounted. News media have reported 318 absentee ballots arrived four days after the state deadline to be counted –14 days or longer after they were postmarked.

While some of the 768 includes ballots that may have been uncounted for reasons other than slow mail delivery, there were a number of tax levy issues that won or lost by 300 or fewer votes. A May 12 Enquirer article reported the Ohio Secretary of State’s office was “not aware of any ballots delivered too late in other counties.”

Ohio has 88 counties. What happened in Butler? Has this happened in other Butler County elections? And what’s happening at the state and local level to ensure this doesn’t happen again?

Local, state and national leaders who remain silent on this issue condone voter suppression. Our laws should forbid implementing cost-cutting measures that slow mail delivery just weeks before any election. They should guarantee military personnel and other American citizens living abroad have their votes counted. That’s how a democracy works.

We know that U.S. mail and package delivery overseas and domestically has slowed tremendously lately. I’m concerned our military and other Americans abroad will not be able to apply for, receive and have absentee ballots delivered in time to be counted for this election.

Vote-by-mail forms rest on the customer service desk, Wednesday, April 1, 2020, at Kroger at Anderson Towne Center in Anderson Township, Ohio.

Ohio needs leaders who stand up for peoples’ rights, not bow to political pressure from a supermajority political party. Less than a month ago, we got a glimpse behind Ohio’s political curtain with the arrest of former Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder and four others in the $61 million bribery scandal related to House Bill 6, the $1.3 billion nuclear energy bailout. U.S. Attorney David DeVillers in a press conference called the case likely the largest bribery and money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of Ohio.

The Householder scandal is what happens when you live in a state with gerrymandered voting districts at the state and national level for more than a decade.

Corruption, plain and simple.

This year, Ohio citizens have two related responsibilities: not only to decide who to vote for, but how they’ll vote during a worldwide pandemic.

Here are four voting options:

  • Vote in person on Election Day. Wear a mask at your polling place as you do when grocery shopping or visiting other public places.
  • Request an absentee ballot by mail, complete the ballot, and mail it to your county board of elections office. Make sure it’s postmarked by Nov. 2. (Based on our May primary results, this seems the riskiest option if you want your vote to count in Butler County.)
  • Request an absentee ballot and hand-deliver it to your county board of elections drop box before noon on Election Day.
  • Visit your county board of elections office during designated early voting hours and vote in person until Nov. 2.
Voters place ballots in a 24-hour drop box at the Hamilton County Board of Elections in Norwood, Ohio, on Monday, April 27, 2020. The Board of Elections is taking ballots through the drive through drop box and by mail as the April 28 deadline approaches.

I promise, as state senator for District 4, to lead with honesty, integrity and focus on legislation that serves the people of Ohio, not a political party. I pledge to help solve the public education financing issue in a way that is fair and equitable for all Ohioans –something the supermajority in power today has ignored since the Ohio Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in 1997.

Yes, 1997 – 23 years ago.

If you plan to vote absentee, request your ballot today. Right now.

As for me, I’ll vote in person during early voting hours sometime between Oct. 6 and Nov. 2 at the Butler County Board of Elections.

Kathy Wyenandt is a Democrat running for Ohio state senator in District 4, Butler County. To read her op-eds on other important Ohio issues, visit www.kathyforohio.com.

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