A federal judge in Ohio overruled a limit of one ballot drop box per county imposed by the Republican secretary of state.
U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster in Cleveland on Thursday granted a request by civil rights organizations and individual voters to halt enforcement of the directive. The prohibition on off-site drop boxes was an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote because 15% of Cincinnati and Cleveland’s voting population, who are primarily poor and people of color, would have to travel more than 90 minutes to and from their single drop box location at the county election office, the judge said.
“Voters’ fears of voting in-person due to Covid-19 are reasonable, and no one can rationally discount those fears,” Polster said. “It is also indisputable that we are living in the unprecedented juxtaposition of the worst pandemic in a century coupled with reasonable concern and anxiety over the ability of the U.S. Postal Service to handle what will undoubtedly be the largest number of absentee voters in Ohio’s history, both by absolute number and percentage.”
Disputes over ballot drop box sites have taken on a new urgency as a result of controversial delivery problems at the U.S. Postal Service, which are expected to prompt many voters to personally deliver ballots to drop boxes instead of relying on the mail.
An Ohio state court of appeals ruled earlier this month, in a case brought by the Ohio Democratic Party, that state law neither prohibits nor requires ballot drop boxes at locations other than the boards of elections.
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