Voting rights group hits Secretary of State LaRose with lawsuit

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — There are less than 100 days until the November 3 general election and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose faces two newly filed lawsuits. Both of the lawsuits filed Friday have to do with Ohio’s absentee ballots.

In federal court, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, along with other organizations, filed a lawsuit challenging the current process of matching voting signatures on absentee ballots and ballot applications.

“We want to make sure that this process isn’t denying people who are truly registered Ohio voters,” said Jen Miller, director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio.

Miller said the current process is not uniformed and election officials who have no handwriting analysis experience are allowed to reject ballots if they think the voter’s signature doesn’t match. She also explained that voters with a disability and the elderly are most susceptible to being rejected and may need to vote absentee this year due to the pandemic.

Secretary LaRose responded to the lawsuit in a statement:

Ohio voters expect accessible and secure elections. This lawsuit is a solution in search of a problem that would obliterate Ohio’s safeguards on providing secure, no fault absentee voting to every eligible voter. As always, I’m open to working with these groups to improve Ohio’s processes and technologies related to signature verification, but a lawsuit 67 days before early voting begins is not the solution. Opening the floodgates to allow for potential voter fraud and abandoning this important and long-standing safeguard will only empower those seeking to delegitamize our election. We won’t allow that to happen in Ohio.

Frank LaRose

Miller denies that this would make voting less secure in November.

“It’s not the only proof that someone provides that they are who they are, so we believe better practices make the entire process more secure and accurate,” said Miller.

Also on Friday the Ohio Democratic Party filed a lawsuit to require Boards of Elections to accept absentee ballot applications via email.

“If we can do bank transactions online, if we can do other things online, we buy things online, there’s no reason in the world why you shouldn’t be able to apply for an absentee ballot online,” said David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party.

Pepper said the current law doesn’t prohibit the practice and more than 20 other states allow voters to email a request to receive an absentee ballot. Secretary LaRose’s office said there are concerns with the cyber security of requiring boards of elections to open attachments.

Secretary LaRose released the following statement on this lawsuit:

“Now more than ever, voters need stability and trust in their elections. Implementing an insecure system where e-mailed attachments could just as easily be a virus as it could be a picture of a ballot request form puts our election in danger. In just a few weeks, we are putting a ballot request form in the hands of every registered voter. That allows every voter to have their voice heard. The ODP should stop trying to score cheap political points and join me and Ohio’s bipartisan elections officials in pushing for secure online absentee ballot requests through SB 191.”

Frank Larose

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