COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Every county in Ohio may have more than one absentee ballot drop box, as long as they are located at Board of Elections offices, according to a new order from Secretary of State Frank LaRose.
LaRose also ordered Monday that boards of elections are required to accept absentee ballots 24 hours a day and is permitting drive-thru ballot drop-off locations at board offices.
“Tomorrow, absentee ballots will begin being mailed out to over 2 million Ohioans who requested them and voting starts at 88 early voting locations across the state in what will be the most accessible election in state history,” LaRose said in a news release. “Despite predictable partisan politics that attempt to create phony crises, we have kept our eye on the ball and Ohio’s election officials are ready to administer a safe, secure, and accurate election.”
LaRose was given the authority Friday to expand the number of ballot drop boxes under a ruling from Ohio’s 10th District Court of Appeals. The panel of three judges at the same time overturned a decision from a Franklin County judge that said LaRose was legally obliged to expand the number of locations.
The lawsuit was brought by the Ohio Democratic Party, which wanted the option for multiple drop-off locations in each county. The Democrats slammed LaRose for refusing to allow off-site locations.
“Frank LaRose pledged publicly that he would allow expanded dropbox locations if he were allowed under Ohio law,” said a news release from the party. “We proved our case, and he lost, showing that dropboxes are permitted in multiple locations in Ohio counties. Now he’s going back on his word with a transparent, cynical ploy.”
In his statement, LaRose said that state law is unclear and and that he will work with the legislature next year to clarify the issue.
After a record 2 million Ohioans requested absentee ballots — more than double the number from 2016 — LaRose continued to assert that mail is a safe way to return an absentee ballot. He listed the following protocols being used by the United States Postal Service:
- USPS will institute “all clear” processes at each sorting facility to ensure all election mail is processed each day.
- Staff will recheck collection bins each day to ensure late arriving ballots are retrieved.
- USPS will set up hand-to-hand delivery for election mail as it makes its way through processing on the Saturday prior to Election Day, from the board of elections to the distribution center.
- Postal facilities will track election mail deliveries to Ohio’s boards of elections