Ohio judge blows GOP plan to allow only 1 ballot box in each county

Columbus, Ohio – An instruction banning Ohio counties in a ballot drop box in November was arbitrary and inappropriate, a county judge ruled Tuesday, sending the Republican secretary to another state in the presidential battleground.

Secretary of State Frank Loros’ office said he would soon appeal the decision by Richard Plea, the Common Pleas Judge of Franklin County, assuming the judge was as follows and invalidated the secretary’s drop-box order.

For now, nothing changes Fry’s ruling, LaRose spokesman Maggie Sheehan said in a written statement, “and the secretary’s direction remains unchanged.”

Access to the ballot drop box has become an urgent case at the national level, including the in-person voting option restricted by the coronovirus epidemic and the efficiency and safety of mail-in voting among cut-shortcomings in the US Postal Service.

It is often home to largely Democratic urban counties – such as Cuyahoga, Cleveland – which expand the number of drop boxes. Cuyahoga must serve more than 860,000 registered voters under LaRose’s order with only one drop box.

A coalition of the Ohio Democratic Party and voting rights group sued Laos last month over the directive, calling it unconstitutional. This barred the Election Board from installing more than one drop box located in the county board of elections, effectively placing the box in the Ohio presidential primary available to lawmakers.

LaRose cited a state election law that states absentee ballots should be “delivered by mail or in person” to the county election director. He has stated that he personally supports counties adding more drop boxes, but he lacks the legal authority to extend the number beyond the one established in law.

But Frye said the law’s wording makes “distributed” unclear: “It does not squarely answer whether drop boxes are allowed, or if how many boxes can be used, or where they can be located by the election board . “

Because the law is unclear, Frye said, counties should be legally allowed to have extra boxes.

“While the Secretary has broad discretion to issue instructions and otherwise guide local boards of elections, their actions must be legally justified to be enforced,” Fry wrote. “Totally arbitrary rules are entitled without restriction.”

In response to the ruling, State Democratic Party President David Pepper asked Laos to rise to the occasion.

“It is time for the Secretary of State to do what he has told the public and officials about what he will do,” Pepper tweeted. No more delay. And no appeal. No more time will be wasted. “

The drop box decision was the third issue La Ros has faced since Friday, when a county judge asked him to allow voters to apply for absentee ballots for the November presidential election via electronic means, including fax or email Had ordered That verdict was stayed on Saturday as an appeal proceeding.

On Monday, powerful Republicans on the powerful State Control Board voted against Loros’s proposal to use money from his office’s Business Services budget to pay postage on every mail-in ballot in the state.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, election clerks left the presidential battlefield to send absentee ballots on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the state’s highest court lifted a temporary ban on sending them, while calling it a legal challenge. agreed.

“We’re busy,” said Wendy Helgeson, city of Greenville clerk, who also serves as president of the Wisconsin Municipal Clerk Association.

More than 1,850 clerks in municipalities, large and small, were working to meet Thursday’s deadline in state law to mail more than 1 million voters who had requested them so far. Absentee ballots may be requested until October 29, but election officials have urged voters to act more quickly given the large numbers and delays expected with the mail.