Bill signed to extend overseas absentee ballots deadline

March 11, 2022 GMT

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Overseas absentee ballots could arrive up to 20 days after Ohio’s primary election instead of 10 and still be counted under emergency legislation signed into law Friday by Gov. Mike DeWine amid debate over new state legislative maps.

The measure also requires those ballots—mostly for members of the military—to be ready no later than April 4, which is 29 days before the May primary.

Legislative Republicans approved the measure this week over protests by Democrats, who argued the primary itself should be moved.

Last week, the U.S. Defense Department denied a request by Ohio Elections Chief Frank LaRose to waive the March 19 deadline by which overseas ballots must be mailed.

Subsequent conversations involving LaRose, the Defense Department and the Justice Department permitted the move to April 4.

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County election officials have raised questions about their ability to carry out a successful primary election May 3, citing the already tight timeline due to the still-unresolved redrawing of state legislative maps.

Also Friday, LaRose said he agreed that a federal lawsuit by GOP voters demanding the use of maps previously declared unconstitutional could be delayed pending a decision by the state Supreme Court on the latest proposed maps, “provided that resolution comes quickly.”