Ohio rules out extra ballot drop boxes for November election

Ohio rules out extra ballot drop boxes for November election
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Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) announced Wednesday that the state is barring county boards of elections from offering more than one drop box for completed absentee ballots this November.

Three weeks ago, LaRose asked Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) for a legal opinion on whether extra ballot drop boxes were allowed under state law. LaRose said Wednesday that he has yet to receive the opinion, and claimed it has become too late to make changes on how Ohio will administer this year’s presidential election.

“What I decided was instead of waiting for continued legal analysis, was to move forward to say we are not going to allow additional drop boxes for this election,” LaRose said at a Wednesday news conference. “With under three months to go until Election Day, I don’t think it’s time to change the way we have done things here in Ohio and add new drop boxes and questions about the validity of that." 

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Early voting in Ohio begins Oct. 6, and the election is Nov. 3. Voters in Ohio do not need to have an excuse to request an absentee ballot, and under the CARES Act, each of Ohio’s 88 counties are required to offer a secure drop box for completed ballots and ballot request forms outside their board of elections headquarters. 

Democrats and voting rights activists have advocated for more drop boxes in community centers and have accused LaRose of suppressing turnout in an election that is expected to see increased interest in mail-in voting due to concerns about the coronavirus. 

“This has nothing to do with the legislature, who LaRose likes to blame for everything he doesn’t want to do,” Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said on Twitter.

“This is his decision to artificially limit drop boxes to one per county. It’s a terrible decision, totally disregarding voter safety,” he added. 

LaRose argued that adding extra drop boxes would invite lawsuits — such as one that the Trump campaign filed against Pennsylvania — that would delay the process of preparing for the election.