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LaRose Allows Second Ballot Collection Point For Cuyahoga County

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections collects absentee ballot requests, voter registration forms and completed ballots at the dropbox in the board's parking lot. [ideastream file photo]
The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections collects absentee ballot requests, voter registration forms and completed ballots at the dropbox in the board's parking lot.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections will be allowed to collect ballots at a second location near the board’s headquarters, as Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose partially lifts a prohibition on plans to expand ballot drop-off locations.  

LaRose did not approve a second part of the board’s plan: collecting ballots at six local libraries. In September, his office put that idea on hold, citing lawsuits over his directive limiting counties to one ballot dropbox each.

Under the plan approved by LaRose, county board of elections staff would accept completed ballots in the parking lot of Campus International High School near East 30th Street and Chester Avenue.

This second location is just a block up the street from the ballot dropbox in the board’s parking lot.

Ballot drop-offs would begin Oct. 13, and the hours would be the same as the board’s early in-person voting hours. Plus, the board would staff the second collection point from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 2 and Election Day, Nov. 3.

At a Wednesday afternoon meeting, Democratic members said the board should continue advocating for its original idea to collect ballots in libraries, too. Election officials must do more to relieve traffic around the board’s parking lot dropbox, they said.

“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 the dropping off of ballots,” said Democratic board of elections member Dave Wondolowski.

Republican members, who had joined Democrats in supporting the original plan last month, said they would follow LaRose’s guidance for now.

“It does continue to be my hope that before whatever kind of the drop-dead date is for us in a couple weeks, that we may get the authorization to have multiple drop-off locations,” Republican board member Rob Frost said.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office notified U.S. District Judge Dan Polster of LaRose’s decision in a Wednesday court filing. Polster is overseeing a federal lawsuit over ballot dropboxes brought against LaRose by the A. Phillip Randolph Institute of Ohio and other voting groups.

Polster has not yet responded to the state’s filing.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections is not a party in that lawsuit, although Democratic board member Inajo Chappell offered testimony in the case. In a Sept. 25 order, Polster instructed LaRose’s office to work with the county to expand drop-off sites.

“The record shows that the Cuyahoga County board’s physical layout cannot accommodate the large number of voters who are expected to descend upon board headquarters at E. 30th and Euclid on Election Day and the days immediately before to access the dropbox in the middle of its parking lot,” Polster wrote.

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.