‘Deliberate disenfranchisement’: Cuyahoga County Democrats accuse Secretary of State of voter suppression

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – The Cuyahoga County Democratic Party is accusing Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose of trying to suppress voters in the general election.

Party chair Shontel Brown held a press conference at the Board of Elections in Cleveland Thursday to address the concerns.

One issue is the debate over adding more drop boxes in Cuyahoga County.

Currently, you can only drop off your absentee ballot at the Board of Elections.

“To say that we are important in this election is an understatement, and if you don’t think for one minute that was taken into consideration relative to the suppressive actions taken by the Secretary of State, I suggest you think again,” Brown said at the press conference.

Brown also serves Cleveland City Council District 9.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections announced Monday they would add drop-off sites at six locations, a move that had not been approved at the state level.

When asked about it previously, LaRose has said that he does not have the power to make that decision and that the law would have to be changed by the State Assembly.

The Secretary of State had asked them to hold off on plans to do so.

“Whether we like it or not, this question is still being resolved in the courts,” Secretary of State spokesperson Maggie Sheehan said. “We’re concerned that the Cuyahoga board doing this before this issue is resolved in the courts would cause voter confusion. In light of that, we have ordered the board to cease implementation for now.”

In a statement to FOX 8 on Thursday, Sheehan said the claim of LaRose trying to suppress voters is “politically motivated nonsense. The fact is 2020 is the first time every county has a drop box, every voter can vote absentee by mail, Ohio has more early voting than 43 other states, and polls will be open on Election Day.”

The Cuyahoga Democratic Party is also taking issue with postage being unpaid.

LaRose had requested funding for absentee postage, but the state Controlling Board opposed the spending at a meeting this week, deferring to the state legislature.

Brown said the move was “the deliberate disenfranchisement and very intentional actions to make voting harder for some of our most vulnerable voters in our county.”

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