The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a ruling on Friday that effectively limits ballot drop boxes to one box per county for the upcoming presidential election.
This lawsuit was precipitated in mid-August, when Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose issued a directive that limits the number of drop boxes available for absentee ballots. LaRose reasoned that his choice would prevent unwanted litigation and chaos, while voting rights advocates argued that this directive would have a deterrent effect on voters.
When voting rights advocates challenged the directive in court, they pointed out new election concerns brought about by the pandemic. Recently, fears of contracting or spreading the virus while voting in-person have been coupled with fears that the US Postal Service will not be able to handle the increased numbers of mail-in absentee ballots. Many Ohioans hoped that additional ballot drop boxes would be added to mitigate these expected voting difficulties. The US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio agreed with citizens, finding LaRose’s directive to be an unconstitutional infringement on the right to vote. After finding that there was no basis to uphold the directive, the court enjoined enforcement of the directive. However, the appeals court stayed this ruling on Friday, permitting LaRose to proceed. The court found that the drop box limitation was justified by gains in efficiency and security.