Federal District Court Won’t Issue Requirement that Ohio Secretary LaRose Expand Use of Drop Boxes Given Other Options for Collecting Ballots LaRose Has Offered, For Now

From the ruling:

It is now settled law that off-site drop boxes are neither prohibited nor compelled in Ohio.

Yesterday, October 5, the Secretary issued Directive 2020-22. In his latest Directive, the Secretary authorized any board to deploy its staff to receive ballots at sites other than the board office. 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.

While the off-site staff collection of absentee ballots may not have all the advantages of off-site drop boxes, such a program alleviates many of the concerns raised at the hearing. There is no evidence before the Court that Secretary LaRose is currently prohibiting any board from doing something it voted to do to protect the voting rights of its citizens with respect to off-site drop boxes or off-site delivery of ballots. Therefore, there is no problem that requires an injunction.

Accordingly, this case is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. The Court fervently hopes that now that voting has begun, the litigation over drop boxes and off-site ballot collection will come to an end. Should it come to pass, however, that between now and November 3 any county board of elections votes to implement off-site drop boxes, Plaintiffs may refile their lawsuit, so long as the affected board is added as a party.

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