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Election Protection is WKSU’s community information initiative focused on access, policy and community resources around voting this November.

LaRose Maintains Confidence About November Vote, Despite Pressure to Allow More Ballot Drop Boxes

a screen capture of Frank LaRose
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose addresses a virtual Akron Round Table audience Thursday.

Some members of Ohio’s congressional delegation penned a letter to Secretary of State Frank LaRose urging him to allow more than one box per county where people can drop off their November election ballots.

LaRose appealed a Franklin County judge’s ruling that would allow multiple drop boxes.

Democrats and voting rights advocates say LaRose wasted time appealing the Franklin County court ruling that allows counties to set up more of the secure boxes. They argue the one-box rule threatens to create backlogs in large counties.

LaRose told the Akron Roundtable Thursday that he will abide by a final court ruling or action by the legislature, but also said that making any more changes could be difficult and confusing since early voting begins in about 10 days.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, who once served as secretary of state, says there’s no good reason not to allow more than one drop box per county. He says more people than ever are likely to vote this year, and they don’t want to risk contracting COVID-19 by voting in person.

Sen. Sherrod Brown says county boards of election should be allowed to add more drop boxes.

“Why are these geniuses in Columbus saying, ‘Oh you can only have one per county.’ It’s not expensive. It doesn’t compromise the safety of the vote. We know how to do it,” Brown said.

Local boards of election want more drop boxes and should be allowed to have them, he said.

LaRose, during the roundtable, reassured voters concerned about the ability of the state to deal with a large increase in absentee ballots because of the pandemic. He cited the state's nearly two decades worth of experience in no-fault absentee voting.

"Long before we were talking about a pandemic, what we were focusing on with our board of elections was making sure we protect our elections infrastructure. And when the U.S. department of Homeland Security tells other states to follow Ohio as an example, that tells us that we're doing something right," he said.

LaRose says he is also working to ensure Ohio's elections are secure and accurate and guarantee the best safety practices and voting options.

Ohio is expected to know as early as next week whether an appeals court will allow more than one voting drop box in each county for people to hand deliver their mail-in ballots.

Ohio begins mailing absentee ballots and allowing early in-person voting Oct. 6.

A Northeast Ohio native, Sarah Taylor graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where she worked at her first NPR station, WMUB. She began her professional career at WCKY-AM in Cincinnati and spent two decades in television news, the bulk of them at WKBN in Youngstown (as Sarah Eisler). For the past three years, Sarah has taught a variety of courses in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State, where she is also pursuing a Master’s degree. Sarah and her husband Scott, have two children. They live in Tallmadge.