COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An appeals court halted a judge’s order directing Ohio’s elections chief to allow voters to apply for absentee ballots for the November presidential election by electronic means, something sought by Democrats in the pivotal swing state.
The appeals court Friday halted the preliminary injunction issued earlier that day, pending the outcome of an appeals process it said would be “expedited for briefing, oral argument, and determination.”
The court called for arguments and responses from both sides to be filed by Sept. 23.
Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Stephen McIntosh’s decision Friday to grant the Ohio Democratic Party’s motion had been heralded by the party as a victory for voter access.
Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose, however, responded with alarm, saying it “injects chaos into what was already a challenging election for our county boards of elections” and appealing the decision.
LaRose’s office recently mailed 7.8 million absentee ballot applications to registered voters across the state.
The ruling would allow people to fax those to their county election board or to send them in as an email attachment.
State Democratic Chairman David Pepper had said he was pleased the court agreed with the party’s argument that Ohio law permits such submissions and questioned why LaRose would appeal the decision after lobbying for years for online submission of the applications.
Messages seeking comment on the stay were left with representatives of the Democratic Party and the secretary of state’s office.