Republicans argue against electronic Ohio ballot application

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The filings in a state appellate court were submitted ahead of oral arguments scheduled Thursday in a lawsuit brought by the Ohio Democratic Party, alleging Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s order is unconstitutional.

Posted: Sep 23, 2020 5:02 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s top election official acted reasonably when he barred counties from accepting absentee ballot applications electronically in the face of potential cyberthreats and a loosely worded law, lawyers for the state and Republicans argued in a court filing Wednesday.

Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s directive was also “consistent with more than a decade of bipartisan precedent,” according to groups including the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and the state GOP.

The filings in a state appellate court were submitted ahead of oral arguments scheduled Thursday in a lawsuit brought by the Ohio Democratic Party, alleging LaRose’s order is unconstitutional.

A county judge temporarily blocked the order last week, characterizing it as arbitrary and unreasonable.

Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Richard Frye ruled counties should be allowed to explore accepting ballot applications by electronic means, including by email or fax.

Enforcement of Frye’s order was stayed, however, as the state appeals to Ohio’s 10th Appellate District.

Lawyers for the Republican committees wrote that “emails can be vessels for cybersecurity threats, including ransomware,” and that such attacked could be “catastrophic.”

That argument mirrors one made by LaRose, who says he fears moving away from accepting the forms exclusively in person or by mail would risk outside interference in a critical presidential battleground.

The dangers of submitting an absentee application as an email attachment are a matter of debate in the case, however.

A group of computer information and engineering technology experts from several top U.S. universities said in a Tuesday filing that steps are available to Ohio’s 88 county election boards to easily protect against risks tied to those attachments.

But Republicans told the court that siding with Democrats could mean electronic applications arriving in other ways besides email or fax, including as text messages or submissions to an election board’s Twitter account or an election director’s Facebook page.

The Ohio deadline for submitting applications for an absentee, or mail-in, ballot is noon Oct. 31, but postal and election officials recommend mailing them no later than Oct. 27, a week before Election Day. Early voting begins in Ohio on Oct. 6.

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
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Kosciusko455739
Howard334975
Warrick319572
Floyd311477
Bartholomew308462
Wayne301367
Cass295831
Marshall293744
Grant262949
Noble249846
Hancock246551
Boone240254
Henry240237
Dubois234631
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Jackson212633
Morgan204443
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Clinton177821
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White120321
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Jefferson116216
Scott103219
Greene101353
Jay96413
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Fountain7738
Washington7417
Franklin68626
Carroll67913
Orange66628
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Owen5987
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Tipton55226
Rush5317
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Union2671
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Ohio2307
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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
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