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Published: Wednesday, 7/23/2008

Ohio won't force counties to mail out absentee ballots


COLUMBUS - Ohio's elections chief won't require counties to mail all voters absentee ballot applications ahead of November's election, irritating Republican lawmakers who said yesterday that the decision means everyone won't have the convenience of voting at home.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, said in a directive issued last week that the legislature's $3 million appropriation for the mailings would not be enough if all 88 counties participated.

Requiring the mailings without sufficient state funding would force some counties to rely on funds they may not have, she said. She instead gave counties the option of mailing absentee ballot applications with notices of election, which are required to be mailed 60 days before the contest. Counties choosing not to send the applications to all voters will have to send them to voters asking for them.

Republican lawmakers said Ms. Brunner's decision could disenfranchise voters in smaller, poorer counties.

Franklin, Cuyahoga, and Hamilton counties - which include Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati - send absentee ballot applications to all voters using their own funds.

This presidential election is Ohio's first during which voters can vote absentee, either by mail or in person, before Election Day without having to give a reason.

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