Ohio limit of 1 ballot drop box per county blocked, appealed

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A judge in Franklin County, home to the state capital, blocked the directive Wednesday after Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who oversees Ohio elections, failed to voluntarily respond to his declaration that the order was arbitrary and unreasonable.

Posted: Sep 18, 2020 3:20 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio judge has temporarily blocked the Republican secretary of state’s order limiting counties in the critical presidential battleground to one ballot drop box, and the state and Republicans have appealed.

A judge in Franklin County, home to the state capital, blocked the directive Wednesday after Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who oversees Ohio elections, failed to voluntarily respond to his declaration that the order was arbitrary and unreasonable.

The state immediately appealed, and the Ohio Republican Party followed suit late Thursday, placing the fate of the order on hold.

The faceoff makes unclear how many drop boxes will be available to Ohio voters just 2 1/2 weeks before voting begins Oct. 6.

Access to ballot drop boxes has become an urgent matter nationally amid the coronavirus pandemic, questions about mail-in voting security and cutbacks at the post office.

Urban counties, which tend to favor Democrats, are often the ones seeking to add drop boxes due to their large populations.

Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Richard Frye’s ruling Tuesday derided LaRose’s directive but stopped short of requiring LaRose to change or rescind it.

LaRose did neither, leaving the restriction of one drop box for each of Ohio’s 88 counties in place.

The Ohio Republican Party lashed out at Frye as a “partisan judge” and accused him of colluding with fellow Democrats before issuing his decision.

But Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican, rebuked her own party and the comments’ “unsigned authors” and came to Frye’s defense.

“Every one” of Ohio’s 722 judges, 800 magistrates and numerous active-retired judges were dismayed by what she called a “disgraceful, deceitful” attack by the Republicans, she said in a written statement.

“The Republican Party’s statement should be seen for what it is: part of a continuing string of attacks against any decision that doesn’t favor a political end, regardless of party, even if that decision may be legally correct and indeed legally required,” she said.

Both of Frye’s actions come in a lawsuit brought by the Ohio Democratic Party alleging LaRose’s restriction is unconstitutional.

He has said that he personally supports counties adding more drop boxes, but that he lacks the legal authority to expand the number beyond the one set by the Republican-controlled Legislature this spring.

“Secretary LaRose believes the law is clear about the very limited ways that absentee ballots may be returned to county boards of elections under Ohio law,” spokeswoman Maggie Sheehan said in a statement. “Specifically, it states absentee ballots ‘must be delivered by mail or personally deliver(ed) to the director’ of their county board of elections and ‘in no other manner’.”

The single drop box Ohio lawmakers allowed would be located at each county board of elections, while added drop boxes are envisioned to be placed at locations throughout a county.

But Frye said because the word “deliver” is ambiguous in the law, counties must be legally permitted to explore setting up additional boxes.

Shontel Brown, the Democratic chairwoman in Cuyahoga County, home to Cleveland, said at a news conference Thursday that LaRose’s order came “just hours” after the bipartisan elections board there had announced plans to allow six libraries to serve as collection points for completed ballots.

That same day, Cleveland Cavalier Larry Nance Jr. tweeted: “Hey @FrankLaRose why do we only have 1 drop box per county in Ohio? Doesn’t seem fair and equal to all people.”

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 750432

Reported Deaths: 13764
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1031991782
Lake556411007
Allen41662691
St. Joseph36974564
Hamilton36561417
Elkhart29390459
Tippecanoe22886225
Vanderburgh22549400
Porter19348325
Johnson18432388
Hendricks17608317
Clark13206193
Madison13139344
Vigo12608253
LaPorte12415221
Monroe12188175
Delaware10954198
Howard10285225
Kosciusko9619119
Hancock8562145
Bartholomew8164157
Warrick7856156
Floyd7781180
Grant7232179
Wayne7160201
Boone6939103
Morgan6746141
Dubois6214118
Marshall6208116
Cass6000109
Dearborn589578
Henry5895109
Noble580787
Jackson508975
Shelby500896
Lawrence4738122
Gibson444593
Clinton441455
Harrison441073
DeKalb439485
Montgomery436390
Whitley406343
Huntington402481
Steuben399759
Miami393169
Jasper387454
Knox375890
Putnam372160
Wabash360683
Ripley346970
Adams345355
Jefferson335785
White331553
Daviess3033100
Wells295181
Decatur289992
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey273835
LaGrange273072
Scott270156
Clay266448
Washington245234
Randolph244783
Jennings235349
Spencer234431
Starke227958
Fountain220348
Sullivan214343
Owen211658
Fulton202142
Jay200932
Carroll193420
Orange188155
Perry187137
Rush175826
Vermillion174644
Franklin170335
Tipton166146
Parke149316
Pike138234
Blackford136232
Pulaski120547
Newton113736
Brown104043
Crawford102316
Benton101414
Martin91615
Warren83815
Switzerland8118
Union72810
Ohio57811
Unassigned0420

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1108146

Reported Deaths: 20122
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1286421460
Cuyahoga1157382208
Hamilton813551248
Montgomery525311041
Summit48395999
Lucas43343818
Butler38951604
Stark33318929
Lorain25658504
Warren24580303
Mahoning22355603
Lake21166387
Clermont20111253
Delaware18841135
Licking16660222
Fairfield16570204
Trumbull16537482
Medina15603271
Greene15272247
Clark14233306
Wood13287198
Portage13242214
Allen11910239
Richland11601211
Miami10843224
Wayne9130222
Columbiana9029230
Muskingum8906135
Pickaway8658122
Tuscarawas8643248
Marion8641138
Erie8056164
Ashtabula7147179
Hancock6996132
Ross6943161
Geauga6834150
Scioto6534105
Belmont6155174
Union584549
Lawrence5726102
Jefferson5675158
Huron5544122
Sandusky5439125
Darke5415129
Seneca5347126
Washington5318109
Athens523660
Auglaize501887
Mercer487385
Shelby476595
Knox4570112
Madison444065
Ashland435597
Putnam4336103
Defiance432298
Fulton432072
Crawford4036110
Brown402461
Logan387577
Preble3848104
Clinton379166
Ottawa373581
Highland359665
Williams348078
Champaign344258
Guernsey324853
Jackson318154
Perry297350
Morrow291840
Fayette285450
Hardin274965
Henry273367
Holmes2699101
Coshocton268960
Van Wert247264
Adams243156
Pike242835
Gallia240750
Wyandot234556
Hocking220162
Carroll197148
Paulding176542
Meigs148240
Monroe136344
Noble136039
Harrison114138
Morgan109624
Vinton85517
Unassigned03
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