Mary Alice Reporting – A new law, signed by Governor Mike DeWine, will change aspects of voting that have the potential to streamline some of the processes.

House Bill 458 modifies voter identification with other adjustments of when an Ohioan can request an absentee ballot.

Tuscarawas County Board of Elections Director Gail Garbrandt explains on the difference in the primary relates to early voting. Typically, that would end the day before the election but under this new law, early voting will end on the Sunday before the election.

“But those six hours on Monday are not going to be lost. The way the legislation was passed, it gives the Secretary the discretionary authority to reallocate those six hours, when needed, especially during presidential and mid-term congressional gubernatorial elections.”

Another component relates to absentee ballot requests, which has held a deadline of the Saturday before the election. Garbrandt says the final day to request an absentee ballot will now be seven days before an election, which is something she says will create a more streamlined process.

 “The problem was that if people came in that Saturday and they didn’t live in New Philadelphia there was no way they were going to get their ballot in time. Then they would go to vote, because they didn’t get their ballot, it would show in their record that they had a ballot so then they’d have to vote provisional. It was just more paperwork and more complicated.”

As for voter identification, when going to the polls, only a valid photo ID will be permitted, which eliminates the previous options of a utility bill, bank statement, or government check.

More details on the ballot drop box, which will be limited to one per county, and other matters are expected to be discussed during a conference this week, in Columbus, with Ohio’s Secretary of State.

February 1st is the filing deadline for issues and candidates, which will include several local mayor and council positions.

Meanwhile, according to AP News, a suit has been filed, by a Democratic law firm, “against Ohio’s new election law, claiming on behalf of groups representing military veterans, teachers, retirees, and the homeless that it “imposes needless and discriminatory burdens” on the right to vote.”

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