Cuyahoga County Board of Elections meets to discuss additional absentee ballot drop sites

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CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) — The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections held a meeting Wednesday afternoon to address dropping off absentee ballots for the November election.

As of Tuesday, LaRose says 2 million Ohioans have requested an absentee ballot, more than double the same time in 2016.

In an attempt to make voting easier during the pandemic, the board had recently developed a plan to set up vote-by-mail ballot drop sites at six local libraries and a high school parking lot across the street from the board’s office.

“This was a bipartisan plan,” said board member David Wondolowski.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose asked the board to hold off until two lawsuits on mail-in voting are settled.

While waiting on a decision from the state appeals court on the ability to have multiple ballot drop boxes per county, a federal judge has ordered LaRose to work with the board to develop and implement a plan to “alleviate the looming crisis for voters who plan to personally deliver their ballots.”

The board was informed by their attorney that the secretary’s office was willing to approve only the high school parking lot location at this time due to pending litigation.

“Just dictating to us and giving us one more location is not going to alleviate the issue that we know we’re going to have with dropping off the ballots,” Wondolowski said.

Some members, like Inajo Davis Chappell, were unhappy with the news and the lack of direct communication with LaRose. 

“I wish we could have a more direct conversation with the secretary of state to understand what the problem is with implementing our complete plan,” Chappell said.

Others like Rob Frost said they respect the secretary’s position and felt he met the spirit of what the judge was asking however, “It does continue to be my hope that before whatever kind of drop-dead date it is for us, in a couple of weeks that we may get the authorization to get multiple drop-off locations.”

As for the position of the board’s chairman Jeff Hastings, “I’m gonna defer to the judge and the judge will decide whether this is appropriate or that the interaction was appropriate or the whole process.”

We got no comment from the Secretary of State’s Office but they did provide us with a copy of their response confirming they only agreed to the part of the plan allowing for ballot drop off at that location and nowhere else.

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