Ohio’s 88 counties will each have one ballot drop box available to use for the General Election, Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced Wednesday.
LaRose made the directive to all county boards of elections.
At a news conference on Wednesday, LaRose said he had asked the Ohio Attorney General’s office for legal insight as to whether counties could add more than one drop box. Voter rights advocates had called for additional drop boxes as a means of improving voting access.
Believing he did not have sole authority to allow more drop boxes, along with not wanting to keep waiting for the attorney general’s answer, LaRose used his authority to restrict each county to one apiece this fall.
LaRose is encouraging the state legislature to take up the issue for future elections. He has similarly called on lawmakers to approve several other policy proposals, such as allowing online absentee ballot applications and paying for prepaid postage on elections mail.
Voting rights advocates say additional drop boxes would allow citizens to cast ballots without dealing with Election Day crowds or potential delays with the postal system.
Gary Daniels, the chief lobbyist for the ACLU of Ohio, took issue with the secretary’s interpretation of his legal authority:
Wait a second. SOS LaRose claims to not have legal authority to *allow* extra drop boxes for ballots (or that it is at least an open question). But thinks he does have the authority to *prevent* extra drop boxes via SOS directive? How….interesting.
— Gary Daniels (@gdanielsohio) August 12, 2020
Several Democratic Party officials and lawmakers were more direct in their criticism.
“I am frankly sickened by Secretary of State LaRose’s actions today,” said state Sen. Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood, in a provided statement. “This is an attack on voting rights in Ohio, plain and simple.”