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Mail-only primary set for April 28

LISBON — The postponed March 17 primary election has been moved to April 28 by the state legislature, and this time everyone will vote by mail.

The sweeping bill passed Wednesday by the Ohio House and Senate requires the entire election be conducted entirely by absentee ballot, and no polling places will be open on April 28.

Kim Fusco, director of the Columbiana County Board of Elections, said the public can download an application from the BOE’s website and mail it back. Another way is to send a letter to the BOE declaring you are a qualified voter and you want to vote in the Democratic or Republican primary. The letter should be signed and state your formal name, address, date of birth, and your last four Social Security numbers or your driver’s license identification number.

The staff has also set up a table in the lobby outside the BOE offices with the absentee voting applications on it,, enabling voters to fill out the form on the spot and drop it off there, which Fusco said is probably the easiest option. She asks that only as a last resort you call the office to request the staff mail you an application.

The ballots will have to be postmarked by April 27 to be eligible to be counted. Pre-paid postcards explaining how to obtain an absentee ballot will be mailed to all registered voters, even if they have already voted. Provisions will be made for the disabled or those without access to the mail.

The 1,203 people who already mailed in absentee ballots for the March 17 primary and the 892 who voted early in person at the BOE office will not be allowed to vote again. Fusco said the 1,203 absentee ballots received by mail are under lock and key and will be opened and processed at the appropriate time. All ballots are to be counted on April 28 except for the late-arriving absentee ballots, which can be counted if received within 10 days after the election.

After the state health commissioner canceled the primary election on March 16 to protect the public and poll workers from the coronavirus, Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced the election would be held on June 2 and all polling places would likely be open. Since then, Fusco said they have received more than 500 new absentee voting applications.

Fusco said they will know more about all of the deadlines and other details once the secretary of state’s office is able to digest all of the election particulars in the bill. “I don’t think they even know yet,” she said.

Prior to the primary being postponed, Fusco said they were estimating 35 percent of registered voters would cast a ballot, or 22,750, “but that was based on the polls being open. I can’t even venture to guess what it will be now.”

The BOE staff consists of Fusco, deputy director Bryce Miner, and four clerks. Fusco said they are rotating their staff so they are not all there at the same time, and some employees have been off sick. She said this will create a tremendous amount of work for them in a short period but they will get the job done.

“Hopefully, this will all work out and they can get the requests in as quickly as possible,” Fusco said.

tgiambroni@mojonews.com

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