Ohio Dems File Lawsuit To Permit Multiple Secure Dropboxes Per County

COLUMBUSThe Ohio Democratic Party today filed a lawsuit in state court to permit county boards of elections to install multiple secure dropboxes for the return of absentee ballots, which was prohibited by a recent directive by Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

“Expanding the availability of secure voter dropboxes 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,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper.

“The complaint we filed today makes clear that nothing in Ohio law prevents counties and the Secretary of State from expanding dropboxes within their respective counties. We believe the recently imposed limit of one dropbox per county hinders voters in numerous ways and is not consistent with Ohio statute.”

Many states — including Republican-led states, like Georgia and Utah, and Democratic-run states, like Oregon and Colorado — use dropboxes widely, and a majority of voters in these states return their ballots via dropbox. In addition, a number of states are expanding the availability of dropboxes because of challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic and the U.S. Postal Service.

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission recommends as a best practice that one dropbox be available for every 15,000-20,000 registered voters.

Cuyahoga County has one dropbox — and more than 860,000 registered voters.

The suit presents evidence that one dropbox per county carries a particularly pernicious impact on voters who rely on public transpiration. Travel times via mass transit from several Franklin County communities to that county’s secure dropbox (at the board of elections in the north suburbs) can stretch to well over an hour one-way. Having just one additional dropbox in downtown Columbus would cut those commutes in half in many cases, and more dropboxes would have an even more dramatic impact.

In Hamilton County, transit times would also be cut considerably with additional dropboxes.

Last month the party filed suit to require county boards of elections to accept absentee ballot applications via email, fax or other electronic means.