“Frank LaRose needs to stand firm for voting access”

Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial:

Contrary to LaRose’s own pledges to do everything possible to help county elections officials prepare for an election in which record numbers are choosing to vote absentee, LaRose has used the power of his office improperly to make it harder for voters in Cuyahoga County and the state’s other urban counties to cast their ballots.

This week, Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Richard Frye confirmed what our editorial board wrote at the time — that LaRose’s August order forbidding county election boards from providing secure ballot drop boxes in more than one location was based on an incorrect reading of Ohio law.

The judge in his initial ruling this week left it up to LaRose to lift his prohibition based on LaRose’s statement that he would follow the law once a finding was issued. But when LaRose failed to lift the order, Frye the next day ordered him to do so — and LaRose appealed.

Equally troubling, when the Ohio Republican Party issued a scurrilous attack on Frye, an attack that was so over the top that Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor felt compelled to issue a sharp rebuke, LaRose was silent.

Jon Keeling, director of communication for LaRose’s office, told the editorial board that LaRose had made clear he sought a final verdict from the courts before acting, hence his appeal. Keeling said LaRose typically refrains from commenting on a pending legal matter.

But with less than three weeks to go before early voting starts, LaRose needs to explain actions that make it harder for elections officials — by law, two Republicans and two Democrats running election boards in every county in Ohio — to plan ahead and do their jobs.

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