Postal Crisis Has States Looking for Alternatives to Mail-In Ballots

Undeterred, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee announced Monday night that they would intervene in two other lawsuits, brought by the Ohio Democratic Party and the League of Women Voters, against Ohio’s Republican secretary of state to loosen rules on absentee ballot applications.

In Louisiana, the secretary of state moved to roll back vote-by-mail rules for the state’s primary. The state, which does not have no-excuse absentee ballots, had expanded who was able to vote absentee in the primary. But on Monday, the secretary of state proposed restricting the criteria for additional permissible vote-by-mail excuses to only those who have tested positive for the virus.

The plan would still have to pass the Republican legislature and be signed by a Democratic governor.

In Ohio, Frank LaRose, the Republican secretary of state, said he did not have the legal authority to unilaterally expand drop-box locations. He has since decreed that there can be no more than one drop-off location per county.

In an interview, he said that he supported drop boxes as an alternative to the mail service, but that he did not have the authority under current state law to install them.

“I would love for the General Assembly to authorize the addition of more drop boxes,” he said. “But for me to just unilaterally say, ‘Go ahead, boards of elections, install as many of these as you want’ would be irresponsible, because what I’m doing now is setting up dozens of my boards of elections for all kinds of litigation and creating the potential for more voter confusion, which is the last thing we need right now.”

Instead, he said, the state will begin a public relations campaign to get voters to mail in their ballots early. Ohio has also urged the Postal Service to move some of its processing into the state from a Detroit processing plant to cut down on delays. And it has designed its ballot envelopes with a bold-colored stripe to make sure they are visible during the sorting process.