mcloudy.png
Friday September 18th, 2020 3:27PM

Ohio judge derides restriction of 1 ballot box per county

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A directive that restricted Ohio counties to one ballot drop box in November was arbitrary and unreasonable, a county judge ruled Tuesday, delivering the Republican secretary of state in the presidential battleground another in a series of blows to his policies.

The office of Secretary of State Frank LaRose said he would soon appeal the decision by Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Richard Frye, assuming the judge follows through and invalidates the secretary's drop-box order.

For now, Frye's ruling doesn't change anything, LaRose spokesperson Maggie Sheehan said in a written statement, "and the Secretary’s directive remains in place.”

Access to ballot drop boxes has become an urgent matter nationally, with in-person voting options restricted by the coronavirus pandemic and the efficiency and security of mail-in voting questioned amid cutbacks at the U.S. Postal Service.

It is often the largely Democratic urban counties — such as Cuyahoga, home to Cleveland — that look to expand the number of drop boxes. Cuyahoga must serve more than 860,000 registered voters with only a single drop box under LaRose’s order.

The Ohio Democratic Party and a coalition of voting rights group sued LaRose last month over the directive, calling it unconstitutional. It prohibited election boards from installing more than one drop box located at the county board of elections, effectively holding the boxes to the number lawmakers made available in Ohio’s presidential primary.

LaRose cited a state election law that says absentee ballots must be “delivered by mail or personally” to a voter’s county election director. 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 established in law.

But Frye said the wording of the law makes “deliver” ambiguous: “It does not squarely answer whether drop boxes are permitted, or if so how many boxes may be used, or where they may be located by a board of elections.”

Because the law is vague, Frye said, counties must be legally permitted to explore placing additional boxes.

“While the secretary has broad discretion to issue Directives and otherwise guide local boards of elections, his actions must be reasonable to be legally enforceable,” Frye wrote. “Wholly arbitrary rules are entitled to no deference.”

In response to the ruling, state Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper called for LaRose to rise to the occasion.

“It’s time for the Secretary of State to do what he has told the public and officials that he would do,” Pepper tweeted. “No more delays. No more appeals. No more wasted time.”

The drop box decision was the third issue to confront LaRose since Friday, when a county judge ordered him to allow voters to apply for absentee ballots for the November presidential election by electronic means, including by fax or email. That decision was stayed Saturday as an appeal proceeds.

On Monday, fellow Republicans on the powerful state Controlling Board voted against LaRose's proposal to use funds from his office's Business Services budget to pay for postage on every mail-in ballot in the state.

___

Farnoush Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Israel signs pacts with 2 Arab states: A 'new' Mideast?
Israel on Tuesday signed historic diplomatic pacts with two Gulf Arab states at a White House ceremony that President Donald Trump declared would mark the “dawn of a new Middle East.”
10:33PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Trump denies downplaying virus, casts doubt on mask usage
President Donald Trump is denying he played down the threat of the coronavirus earlier this year, although there is an audio recording of him stating he did just that
10:28PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Transgender activist wins Delaware state senate primary
Transgender activist Sarah McBride has won a Democratic state Senate primary in Delaware and is poised to make history as the first transgender person elected to the state's General Assembly
10:26PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Biden courts Latino voters in 1st trip to Florida as nominee
Joe Biden has made his first trip to Florida as the Democratic presidential nominee with an urgent mission to boost support among Latinos who could decide the election in one of the nation’s fiercest battleground states
9:16PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Biden offers support for Puerto Rican statehood
Joe Biden is expressing his strongest support yet for Puerto Rican statehood, though he says the decision must be made by residents of the island
9:03PM ( 1 hour ago )
Senators push for extra census time, as court prods deadline
Lawyers in a court hearing argued over what would happen if the U.S. Census Bureau blew a deadline to turn over data used for redrawing congressional districts
8:21PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Israel signs pacts with 2 Arab states: A 'new' Mideast?
Israel on Tuesday signed historic diplomatic pacts with two Gulf Arab states at a White House ceremony that President Donald Trump declared would mark the “dawn of a new Middle East.”
10:33PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Trump denies downplaying virus, casts doubt on mask usage
President Donald Trump is denying he played down the threat of the coronavirus earlier this year, although there is an audio recording of him stating he did just that
10:28PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Transgender activist wins Delaware state senate primary
Transgender activist Sarah McBride has won a Democratic state Senate primary in Delaware and is poised to make history as the first transgender person elected to the state's General Assembly
10:26PM ( 28 minutes ago )
'Huge rainmaker': Hurricane Sally threatens historic floods
Heavy rain and high winds from Hurricane Sally's outer storm bands are pounding the Florida and Alabama coasts
10:22PM ( 31 minutes ago )
The Latest: UN assembly head warns of pandemic unilateralism
The new president of the U.N. General Assembly is warning that unilateralism will only strengthen the COVID-19 pandemic and is calling for a new commitment to global cooperation including on the fair and equitable distribution of vaccines
10:18PM ( 36 minutes ago )