(The Center Square) – An Ohio judge ruled Tuesday county boards of elections can install ballot drop boxes at multiple locations, overruling Secretary of State Frank LaRose. Republicans immediately appealed.
Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Richard Frye said there is no legal basis to have only one drop box per county, siding with the Ohio Democratic Party.
“No statue says that delivery must occur with only one box per county,” Frye wrote.
It’s the second court win for the Ohio Democratic Party in a week. Last week, another Franklin County judge ruled county boards of election must accept absentee ballot requests by fax or email, rather than only mail.
“For the second time in less than a week, we are seeing another big victory for Ohio voters,” Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said in a news release. “We are pleased the court agreed with our argument that nothing in Ohio law prohibits the installation of multiple drop boxes in a county.”
According to LaRose’s communications assistant Maggie Sheehan, the ruling does not displace his original directive of one box per county.
“Importantly, while the judge issued a declaration as to the law regarding the return of absentee ballots and drop boxes, he did not rule on the plaintiff’s request to enjoin the secretary’s directive remains in place,” Sheehan said. “The law is clear: absentee ballots must be delivered by mail or personally delivered to the director of their county board of elections and ‘in no other manner.’ Ohioans are fortunate that the judicial branch offers the opportunity to appeal a single trial judge’s opinion.”
The Republican National Committee immediately appealed the ruling.
The Ohio Republican Party took issue with the ruling, saying the law clearly calls for one ballot box per county.
“The judge’s interpretation of this law due to his partisan affiliation is a blatant obstruction of his judicial responsibility,” the state GOP said in a news release.
The Republican Party also accused the state Democratic Party of colluding with Frye after Pepper announced the ruling on Twitter.
“ODP Chairman David Pepper took to Twitter to declare the ruling ‘breaking news’ despite the fact that it hadn’t been released to the public,” the ORP said in a news release. “Rather than get to work for the people of Ohio, Pepper spends all his free time on Twitter, and now, colluding with partisan judges.”
J.D. Davidson is a regional editor for The Center Square