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Court Rules More Ballot Drop Boxes Could Be Installed For November Election

Lake County drop box
Abigail Botter, WKSU
Lake County drop box

A Franklin County Common Pleas Court has ruled additional drop boxes can be installed prior to the November election if Secretary of State Frank LaRose wants them. 

Ohio Democratic Party Chair David Pepper says the ruling is a win for voters who don’t want to mail their ballots and  live far away from their county boards of elections where drop boxes are now located at local boards of elections. Pepper brought this lawsuit this summer, asking a court to rule whether LaRose had the authority to order and install additional drop boxes after the Secretary of State said he wasn't sure he could do it without approval of lawmakers. LaRose had asked Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost for guidance on the matter but withdrew the request just before Yost's office rendered its opinion. With this ruling paving the way, Pepper says Secretary of State Frank LaRose should install more drop boxes.

“This is a box. This isn’t sending a rocket to the moon. This isn’t complicated. In the primary, they set up drop boxes all over this state in a very short time-frame," Pepper says.

This isn't the only lawsuit over drop boxes. The A Phillip Randolph Institute, NAACP of Ohio, League of Women Voters of Ohio and others havefiled suitover the measure in federal court. That lawsuit seeks more than guidance. It asks the court to order more drop boxes be installed.

A spokeswoman for LaRose, Maggie Sheehan, says the judge issued a declaration of the law but did not rule to stop LaRose's directive that prohibits more drop boxes. And without that, she says nothing has changed. She says the office will appeal the ruling at the earliest opportunity. LaRose recently appealed a different ruling a few days ago from the same court that said he could accept online and electronic requests for mail in ballot applications. 

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.