Rural voters want more drop boxes, early voting

A farm along Ohio State Route 78 on Friday, Oct. 9, 2020 in Woodsfield, Ohio. Long a Democratic stronghold, Monroe County, where Woodsfield is the county seat, voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, but broke heavily for President Donald Trump in 2016.

As Republican lawmakers try to limit drop boxes and early voting, a new report shows rural Ohio voters want more flexibility in how they can cast their ballots.

A poll commissioned by the nonpartisan election group Secure Democracy found that roughly three-quarters of rural voters support allowing counties to provide multiple early voting and ballot drop-off locations, as well as expanding the types of acceptable voter identification.

They also back 24-hour drop box access and the use of a secure website to request an absentee ballot.

The poll comes as legislators push separate bills that would alter the state's rules for conducting elections. Supporters say the changes are necessary to prevent fraud, but opponents contend they would sow confusion and suppress votes.

One proposal would eliminate in-person voting on the Monday before Election Day, limit drop boxes to 10 days before Election Day and require Ohioans to request mail-in ballots no later than 10 days before an election. A stricter measure would ban drop boxes entirely and significantly reduce the number of days for early voting, among other provisions. 

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