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2020 is looking to be a pivotal year in politics. But this year's elections are about much more than the race for the White House. And the coronavirus pandemic is proving to be a complicating factor. WKSU, our colleagues at public radio stations across Ohio and the region and at NPR will bring you coverage of all the races from the national to the local level.

Ohio Courts Consider Online Absentee Ballot Requests

photo of absentee ballot request letter
A letter accompanying an absentee ballot form mailed out by the Ohio Secretary of State's office.

More than one million Ohio voters have already sent in applications to vote by mail. But the Secretary of State and the Democrats are in court over whether they can be submitted electronically.

On Friday, Ohio’s 10th Court of Appeals blocked a ruling requiring the state to accept emailed and faxed absentee ballot applications. Earlier that day, a Franklin County judge said state law didn’t specifically prohibit online submissions. Presently, applications must be delivered or mailed.

Ohio Democratic Party chair David Pepper said Ohio already accepts online applications from overseas voters.

“They’re already getting emails from other countries where Ohio voters send emails to request their ballots. So if the boards of elections in Ohio can accept emails from other countries, why in the world can they not also do it from Ohio itself?"

Ohio secretary of state Frank LaRose says the court’s original ruling on Friday could mean “open season for hackers to attack” local boards of election.

Both sides must file responses by Sept. 23rd. 

Afi Scruggs is an award-winning writer/journalist and author who lives in Cleveland, Ohio. Her career started in 1983 as a freelancer in Richmond, Virginia. After that, she worked at newspapers in Washington, D.C., Jackson, Mississippi, and Dayton, Ohio, before settling in Cleveland.