Ohio elections chief OKs drop boxes inside, outside boards

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Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose characterized his revised order as a 'clarification' in a case that has highlighted the interest in access to ballot drop boxes amid coronavirus concerns, cuts at the U.S. Postal Service and President Donald Trump’s baseless assertions that mail-in voting is rigged.

Posted: Oct 5, 2020 1:15 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s secretary of state adjusted his one-box-per-county restriction Monday to say counties may collect absentee ballots both at their buildings and at locations outside, an update to an order that has landed him in both state and federal court.

Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose characterized his revised order as a “clarification” in a case that has highlighted the interest in access to ballot drop boxes amid coronavirus concerns, cuts at the U.S. Postal Service and President Donald Trump’s baseless assertions that mail-in voting is rigged.

LaRose said his order always allowed Ohio’s 88 county boards to collect ballots at various locations around their own property — though that is not how Democrats and voting rights groups who sued had interpreted it.

It is often the more urban, Democrat-heavy counties that lean toward drop boxes.

The new directive requires Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections to accept absentee ballots around the clock at secure receptacles at their central offices and also clears them to set up “convenient drive-through ballot drop offs” outside.

“Outside” is not defined, and the order does not mention the word “property,” which may ultimately cause some confusion. In Cuyahoga County, for example, LaRose gave special approval to a drive-thru drop box that’s located across the street from the board, on property owned by Cleveland State University.

Another board, in Athens County, said it needed special permission from his office just to offer drop boxes at both its front and back entrances.

LaRose pledged to work with the Legislature to clarify the law — but not before this year’s election, for which voting begins Tuesday.

The decision to simply clarify the order was in the spirit of not causing chaos so close to the election, LaRose said.

But a state appellate court made clear Friday that LaRose was free under Ohio law to rescind his earlier order and issue a new one.

In its decision, the 10th District Court of Appeals found that if LaRose wanted to expand the number of ballot drop boxes beyond a single location per county, he was within his authority, but that it wasn’t appropriate for a court to order him to.

The three-judge panel agreed with a lower judge that LaRose’s directive was not reasonable, a victory for Democrats who had brought the legal challenge.

A separate challenge to the one-drop-box-per-county directive was filed in federal court in Cleveland.

However, they also said the order didn’t violate state law and so did not deserve to be blocked — a victory for LaRose and Republican groups, including the Trump campaign, that supported the limitation.

Elections officials in Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati, on Monday showed off a new, expanded voting center as they prepared for early voting to begin Tuesday.

They leased a neighboring 15,000-square-foot space, more than double the usual center’s space in Norwood, Ohio.

“We feel that we are well prepared,” Sherry Poland, elections director, told journalists.

Voters will be greeted by a sanitizing station that includes masks if they don’t have them, and then will be directed to lines with markings 6 feet apart.

Officials are encouraging early voting ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3 and are urging people who are voting by mail not to wait until the final days and risk their votes not arriving in time to get counted.

Poland said strong turnout is expected, although she pointed out there is no history of what voting is like during a pandemic.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 306538

Reported Deaths: 5435
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion41953849
Lake26872453
Allen17621295
Elkhart16905219
St. Joseph16524223
Hamilton12696167
Vanderburgh9552115
Tippecanoe844927
Porter813785
Johnson6231165
Vigo597979
Hendricks5944156
Monroe530349
Clark504077
Madison4858121
Delaware4820103
LaPorte457194
Kosciusko455739
Howard334975
Warrick319572
Floyd311477
Bartholomew308462
Wayne301367
Cass295831
Marshall293744
Grant262949
Noble249846
Hancock246551
Boone240254
Henry240237
Dubois234631
Dearborn215730
Jackson212633
Morgan204443
Gibson181725
Knox181419
Shelby178254
Clinton177821
Lawrence174047
DeKalb172829
Adams166422
Wabash158020
Miami157814
Daviess154643
Fayette147733
Steuben143513
Jasper142111
Harrison141824
LaGrange140129
Montgomery139027
Whitley133412
Ripley128114
Decatur124643
Huntington123510
Putnam123027
Randolph120719
Wells120428
White120321
Clay119822
Posey119616
Jefferson116216
Scott103219
Greene101353
Jay96413
Starke90621
Sullivan88916
Fulton83518
Jennings83214
Spencer8198
Perry81521
Fountain7738
Washington7417
Franklin68626
Carroll67913
Orange66628
Vermillion5993
Owen5987
Parke5606
Newton55312
Tipton55226
Rush5317
Blackford51912
Pike50318
Pulaski37710
Martin3515
Benton3362
Brown3353
Crawford2881
Union2671
Switzerland2555
Warren2382
Ohio2307
Unassigned0266

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 371840

Reported Deaths: 6100
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin50231667
Cuyahoga36047741
Hamilton29931372
Montgomery20065228
Butler14769146
Lucas14317414
Summit13388316
Stark8792197
Warren819175
Mahoning7276299
Lake682666
Lorain643499
Clermont577248
Delaware556436
Licking549276
Fairfield538464
Trumbull5305147
Greene522364
Clark511464
Allen465485
Marion465251
Wood4491107
Medina447756
Miami425867
Pickaway399348
Columbiana347297
Portage344872
Tuscarawas328658
Wayne318793
Richland316638
Mercer289945
Hancock241337
Ross240759
Muskingum240210
Auglaize231031
Putnam224749
Erie224266
Darke223559
Ashtabula223253
Geauga203351
Scioto195915
Union19118
Shelby190615
Lawrence189438
Athens18864
Seneca180018
Belmont164929
Madison158918
Sandusky154229
Preble152621
Huron152318
Defiance139522
Holmes139139
Logan127816
Knox126318
Fulton124525
Washington121927
Crawford121516
Ottawa121130
Clinton106714
Williams10579
Ashland105222
Highland101317
Jefferson10124
Henry100023
Brown9925
Champaign9475
Jackson93112
Hardin91019
Fayette90317
Van Wert8976
Morrow8882
Guernsey83914
Coshocton82613
Perry78712
Adams78313
Pike7451
Gallia73513
Wyandot71216
Paulding64611
Hocking62616
Noble60223
Carroll45710
Meigs39012
Monroe31821
Morgan2575
Vinton2195
Harrison2023
Unassigned00
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