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Ohio lawmakers frustrated over locations of additional ballot drop boxes


File photos of a box of absentee ballots. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WOWK) – Lawmakers from Ohio are berating Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose for having new drop boxes for absentee ballots in Ohio installed next to already existing boxes rather than in a separate location.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), along with U.S. Representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-9), Joyce Beatty (D-OH-3), Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), and Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11), Chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Elections, wrote LaRose a letter alleging he deceptively directed alternative ballot drop boxes to be placed alongside already existing units.

The group of legislators said the action was little more than a political cover for what they called a “unilateral campaign” that hinders Ohioans’ ability to vote. They asked LaRose to permit multiple drop boxes to be located throughout each of Ohio’s 88 counties following three court rulings affirming he has the authority to do so.

On Sept. 18, the lawmakers sent a letter to LaRose urging him to comply with a Franklin County Court of Common Pleas’ ruling directing him to allow multiple secure ballot drop boxes.

“Allowing a second drop box to be located right next to the one currently in place at county Boards of Elections is a naked attempt to provide yourself with political cover, in response to the growing calls you face from around the state to permit multiple drop boxes throughout each county. While you may have achieved the talking point that you ‘allowed multiple drop boxes per county,’ your policy does nothing to make it easier for Ohioans to cast their ballot,” the Ohio lawmakers wrote in their letter.

The lawmakers say they also sent LaRose a letter in September urging him to work with Ohio’s tradespeople to locate additional drop boxes across the state. They say some organizations said they would be willing to build additional secured ballot boxes at no cost to the state.

According to the group of lawmakers, LaRose recently appealed the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas’ ruling directing him to allow multiple secure ballot drop boxes. They say the move to appeal has “injected considerable uncertainty at an already challenging time for elections officials.”

“Now that three courts, state and federal, have agreed that the plain meaning of the law allows for the installation of multiple drop boxes, we are writing to let you know of these court findings. Therefore we urge you to be true to your word and immediately allow multiple secure ballot boxes dispersed throughout each county,” the lawmakers continued in their recent letter.

Brown, Kaptur, Fudge, Beatty and Ryan also sent the Ohio Secretary of State a letter in September asking that he use his authority in the position to prepay the postage for absentee ballots and ballot applications in the state for the 2020 General Election. That letter also asked that he communicate with the U.S. Postal Service to make certain the state’s ballots are delivered on time for the election.

In August, some lawmakers reportedly asked LaRose to allow county boards to install more drop boxes as he and a bipartisan group of Secretaries of State requested a meeting with the Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to ask that any changes to the postal system could not impact the 2020 election.

Brown, Kaptur, Fudge, Beatty and Ryan say LaRose banned county boards of elections from providing more than one ballot drop box for completed absentee ballots at the same time that absentee ballot applications were “pouring into Ohio’s boards of elections at an unprecedented rate.”

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