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Ohio Democratic Party files lawsuit over directive on ballot drop boxes

The Ohio secretary of state limited counties to one dropbox for the Nov. 3 general election.
David Pepper_Frank LaRose
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper, left, and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Democratic Party filed a lawsuit in state court to permit county boards of elections to install multiple secure drop boxes for the return of absentee ballots, which was prohibited by a recent directive by Secretary of State Frank LaRose that limits counties to one drop box for the Nov. 3 general election.

“Expanding the availability of secure voter drop boxes within Ohio counties would make an enormous difference for safe, secure and easy voting in Ohio, as well as eliminate delays in boards receiving ballots through the mail system,” Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said in a news release.

"The complaint we filed today makes clear that nothing in Ohio law prevents counties and the secretary of state from expanding drop boxes within their respective counties. We believe the recently imposed limit of one drop box per county hinders voters in numerous ways and is not consistent with Ohio statute,” Pepper said.

Earlier this month, U.S. Sen Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said he feels LaRose’s decision to allow only one absentee ballot drop box for each Ohio county in the Nov. 3 general election only serves President Donald Trump’s re-election bid.

LaRose announced the decision during a virtual town hall, suggesting allowing more than one drop box could lead to lawsuits from Trump, as seen in Pennsylvania. The lawsuit was put on hold Sunday by a federal judge.

LaRose said he requested a legal opinion on additional drop boxes from Attorney General Dave Yost but never received it. A spokesperson for Yost told The Columbus Dispatch that the attorney general had prepared to issue that opinion, but that LaRose withdrew the request days before the town hall.

“Clearly, the secretary of state seems to think he works for Trump — that’s troubling,” Brown said.