Learn from April; be ready for November
County election boards throughout Ohio did a superb job in handling the April primary election. So did hundreds of thousands of voters.
Perhaps political science professors already have started writing books about the election process this year. If not, they will. COVID-19 has made the political situation one for the history books.
More than 1.5 million ballots were cast in the primary, nearly all by absentee ballots. The majority of them were mailed in to election boards. Yes, there were problems, but overall, the process went very well.
But with the November general election on the horizon, it is plain a few improvements need to be made. Secretary of State Frank LaRose is proposing the General Assembly approve them.
LaRose’s plan has three essential parts: First, county election boards would be enabled to consolidate more polling places. That is necessary because of the likelihood that it will be difficult to find enough poll workers to operate the normal number of balloting stations. An additional concern is the reluctance of some building owners to allow use of the facilities for voting.
Second, many election boards need additional equipment, including ballot scanners. LaRose notes that federal funding is available to pay for the upgrades.
Third, improving both the early voting and mail-in absentee ballot systems is needed, LaRose thinks. More opportunities for early voting and changes such as sending absentee ballot request forms to all registered voters have been suggested.
LaRose’s recommendations should be accepted by legislators — without muddying the waters through addition of politically motivated proposals.
Ohioans reacted well to the primary election changes necessitated by the coronavirus epidemic.
But the November general election will be both more critical and more difficult. Being ready, through improvements such as those recommended by LaRose is vital.