COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A political battle is brewing related to Ohio’s primary election day.
Governor Mike DeWine has been strongly pushing since Monday afternoon to hold the election on June 2. It took a health department order around 10 p.m. Monday night to prevent the polls from opening.
Now, two lawsuits have been filed over how things transpired.
For now, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is proceeding with plans for a June 2 election.
Tuesday, the Ohio Democratic Party took legal action with the Ohio Supreme Court seeking to create an absentee ballot-only election with a deadline of April 28.
The lawsuit requests:
- Ordering Respondent to rescind Directive 2020-06.
- Ordering Respondent to direct Ohio’s Boards of Elections to accept and process absentee ballot applications for voting by mail until 12:00 p.m. on April 25, 2020.
- Ordering Respondent to direct Ohio’s Boards of Elections to accept and count all valid absentee ballots postmarked on or before April 28, 2020, and received at the board on or before May 8, 2020.
- Ordering Respondent to send, or to direct Ohio’s Boards of Elections to accept and count all valid absentee ballots postmarked on or before April 28, 2020, and received at the board on or before May 8, 2020, or received by personal delivery by the voter or a family member on or before April 28, 2020.
- Ordering Respondent to arrange for prepaid postage for the return of absentee ballot requests and absentee ballot envelopes by voters.
- Ordering Respondent to direct Ohio’s Boards of Elections to provide a secure receptacle outside the location of each Board of Elections’ office or early voting center for voters to return their absentee ballots or absentee ballot requests. This receptacle shall be accessible 24 hours per day.
- Ordering Respondent to direct Boards of Elections to provide assistance to voters with disabilities who are unable to complete an absentee ballot application or vote an absentee ballot and who request assistance.
- Ordering Respondent to direct Boards of Elections to provide assistance to voters whose illiteracy prevents them from completing an absentee ballot application or from voting a paper ballot and who request assistance.
- Ordering Respondent to direct the Ohio Boards of Elections to conduct the canvassing of the ballots in accordance with the timelines otherwise provided under Ohio law.
A lawsuit was also filed in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas claiming the election day came and went in Ohio. The fact that voters could not go to the polls has nothing to do with the fact that the time is passed.
Attorney Don Brey says he filed the lawsuit on behalf of Republican Rep. Jason Stephens, who represents the 93rd District in Jackson and Gallia Counties.
The lawsuit argues that the votes that have been cast so far should be all the votes that matter. It argues that only the legislature can set the date for an election and that a primary election day is a matter of statutory authority.
Sources say members of the House and Senate were angry Monday night because they were only informed of the public health order five minutes before it was issued. Until that point, they were under the impression the election would go on as planned.
The Franklin County Board of Elections posted to Facebook that the deadline for applying for a mail-in ballot for the primary has been extended to May 26, with a deadline of June 2 to return the ballot. Applications can be made at the voteohio.gov website.
DeWine and LaRose issued a joint statement Tuesday night.
The statement reads, in full:
Last night, the actions taken by Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton saved Ohio lives. By preventing Ohioans from going to polling locations, we averted a situation which would have gone against the most recent scientific evidence available and could have dangerously advanced the spread of coronavirus across Ohio. It is abundantly clear that it would have been impossible to carry out a fair, accessible, and safe election today. As we move forward, it is vitally important that Ohioans have a significant period of time to cast mail-in absentee ballots and an opportunity to vote in-person, as was provided in the directive issued last night by the Secretary of State.Gov. Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Frank LaRose