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Government & Politics

Federal Judge Will Reconsider Lawsuit Over Ohio Ballot Drop Boxes

Jim O'Bryan drops off ballot in drop box at Cuyahoga County Board of Elections
Tony Dejak
/
Associated Press
Jim O'Bryan drops off his election ballot in the drop box at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland April 22.

Voting rights groups attempting to expand access to ballot drop boxes in Ohio's election are getting a second chance to make their case.

U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland agreed Thursday to reconsider the A. Philip Randolph Institute’s case challenging Secretary of State Frank LaRose's order restricting ballot drop boxes to election board buildings.

Polster  dismissed the institute's case on Tuesday, believing that LaRose's updated order met their request by permitting drop boxes at multiple locations within a county.

"In his latest Directive, the Secretary authorized any board to deploy its staff to receive ballots at sites other than the board office," Polster wrote. "This means that the Cuyahoga County board may implement its intended plan to receive ballots at six public libraries, and that any other board in Ohio that votes to do so may deploy its staff to receive ballots off-site, so long as the board complies with the procedures set forth in Section II of Directive 2020-22.”

LaRose’s office said Polster's interpretation was wrong, however, and immediately ordered counties not to proceed with adding the boxes.

“We’ll make sure the judge is clear on the directive’s intent, which is again, whether it’s drop boxes or in-person dropoff, that absentee ballots are returned to the board of elections," said Secretary of State spokesman Merle Madrid on Wednesday.

Early voting is already underway throughout the state. Absentee ballots can be requested until October 31, and dropped off at a secure ballot drop box until 7:30 p.m. on November 3.

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