COLUMBUS — Two Democratic Ohio lawmakers want state voters to have more access to voter drop boxes throughout the state, and they say Secretary of State Frank LaRose can make voting more convenient for Ohioans.
Bride Rose Sweeney, D-Cleveland, and Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown, want the state to require multiple ballot drop boxes per county based on geography and population. They say current law allows multiple boxes, despite LaRose’s decision to restrict them to one per county.
“No matter where they live, every Ohio voter should have the option to physically drop off their ballot in a way that is both secure and convenient. This is not a radical idea – it’s just common sense,” Sweeney said. “We should not have to spell it out for Secretary LaRose, especially when numerous courts have already upheld that he is allowed to do this.”
LaRose again ordered one drop box per county for the state’s upcoming May 4 primary, Sweeney said. By contrast, she said, Michigan has more than 700 drop boxes, while Ohio has 88.
The two state reps argue limiting boxes causes long lines and traffic jams in highly populated areas and force long drives for voters in rural areas.
“Secure drop boxes will strengthen democracy in Ohio by making voting easier and increasing participation in our elections,” Lepore-Hagan said.
House Bill 209, which has yet to have a hearing in the House Government Oversight Committee, establishes a minimum number of drop boxes per county based on population. Counties with more than 250,000 registered voters would have one box per every 12,500 voters. Counties between 27,500 and 249,999 registered voters would have one per 15,000 voters. All other counties would have at least two.
When last spring’s primary election was moved from March to April and used mostly absentee balloting, the Ohio Legislature decided to have one box per county. LaRose used the same plan for November, issuing a directive that prohibited any other drop boxes at any location other than the board of elections.
Two court rulings said LaRose could allow more than one drop box per county, but he wasn’t required to do that. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed later with LaRose, saying election rules could not be changed during election season.