Absentee fix would make system better

Published 10:18 am Friday, October 15, 2010

Ohio’s absentee ballot system has been loosened over the years, but is it now ripe for abuse and corruption?

That may be the case here in Lawrence County.

The county board of elections saw a red flag recently when it comes to absentee ballots.

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The problem stemmed from the fact that nearly 100 absentee applications requested the ballots be sent to one of two post office boxes. One was in Ironton and one was in Proctorville. Each were registered to different individuals.

This process in and of itself is not illegal. In fact the state made changes a few years ago that expressly allowed this arrangement, with the ultimate goal was to get “Snowbirds” and others who may not live here all year to still take an active role in our government.

The problem is that this setup allows individuals who want to “work” absentees to get citizens to request ballots be sent to one centralized location. They could then forge a signature and cast that person’s vote however they want.

What is even more concerning is that of the ones the Lawrence board checked, most either couldn’t be reached or did not recall asking for the ballot to be sent anywhere other than their home.

The board only checked one out of every five, though. The right thing would have been to verify each and every one of these before sending the ballots.

Regardless, answers will come because election officials are certain to contest these ballots — as they should.

Problems like this aren’t isolated here in Southern Ohio. It is time that the state revisits absentee rules to create a system that is not easily abused.