Voting by mail should be free

Critics of widespread voting by mail really do have some legitimate concerns. But this year, COVID-19 has made them largely academic. Tens of millions of Americans are likely to cast ballots that way. The challenge now is to make the system as efficient and honest as we can.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has a good idea in that regard — don’t force voters to buy stamps to mail in their ballots.

As is the case in many other states, the mechanism being used for this election in Ohio involves the absentee voting system. Virtually any registered voter can request a ballot, receive it by mail, and cast it either by returning it to his or her county elections board personally or mailing it there.

LaRose thinks the state should pay the postage for those using the Postal Service to deliver their ballots. That idea has faced some resistance in the Ohio General Assembly.

So, this week, LaRose revealed he will dip into his office’s budget for the money to put paid postage on every ballot return envelope. Even that will require approval of the state Controlling Board.

Buckeye State residents should not be required to pay to exercise their rights to vote. That may be the best argument in favor of LaRose’s plan.

There are practical reasons to support it, too. One is that if a voter does not have stamps available at home, he or she has to find some way to obtain them, without encountering delays in returning an absentee ballot.

LaRose’s proposal means voters can simply fill out their ballots and take them to the local post office or Postal Service drop box — or, even easier, put them in their mailboxes, raise the small red metal or plastic flag, and have carriers pick up the outgoing mail.

For better or worse, mailed-in ballots will be a major factor in the Nov. 3 general election. Election officials should make the process as convenient — and inexpensive — as possible. LaRose’s idea would go a long way in that regard, and should be implemented.


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