Cuyahoga County Board of Elections awaiting further court action after ruling on ballot drop boxes

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections said it is awaiting further court action after a federal judge ruled Ohio counties can have more than one ballot drop box.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio Judge Dan Aaron Polster issued an order Thursday allowing county board of elections to install secure drop boxes at locations other than the board of elections office.

A directive from Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose had prohibited additional drop boxes.

“We are in the middle of the worst pandemic in a century coupled with reasonable concern 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,” Judge Polster said in his order.

“The Secretary has not advanced any legitimate reason to prohibit a county board of elections from utilizing off-site drop boxes and/or off-site delivery of ballots to staff.”

Cuyahoga County Board of Elections Director Tony Perlatti said the board is moving forward with an in-person collection site manned by a bipartisan team at Campus International High School, near the BOE office, starting Tuesday.

Last month, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections approved a plan for additional drop-off sites at several libraries, but Perlatti said the county is waiting before adding more drop boxes.

“We need for things to play out in the courts to get our final direction for that from the Secretary of State,” Perlattie said. “For now, just know we’re focused on this site, but as things develop, we will react accordingly.”

A spokesperson for LaRose said his office planned to appeal the court’s decision.

“Voting has begun, and Ohio’s elections are safe, secure, and accessible. The place to make changes in how we run our elections is the statehouse, not the courthouse,” Secretary of State Press Secretary Maggie Sheehan said.

However, with early voting already underway, the judge’s order said the ruling will stand even amid appeals. Polster wrote in his decision, “it is time for this litigation to end.”

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