Brown, Kaptur, Beatty, Fudge, Ryan Urge Sec. of State Larose to Work with Ohio’s Tradespeople, Build Secure Ballot Drop Boxes



Ohio State Sheet Metal Workers, Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council Stand Ready To Build Additional Secure Ballot Drop Boxes, At No Cost to the State; LaRose is Appealing Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Ruling that he has Authority to Provide Multiple Ballot Drop Boxes per County

September 28, 2020 – WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), along with U.S. Representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-9), Joyce Beatty (D-OH-3), Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), and Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11), Chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Elections, sent a letter to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose urging him to work with the skilled and dedicated tradespeople of Ohio to locate additional drop boxes across all 88 counties. The men and women of Ohio State Sheet Metal Workers Locals #24 and #33, as well as the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council, have said they stand ready to build additional secure ballot boxes, at no cost to the state. LaRose’s appeal of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas’ ruling directing him to allow multiple secure ballot drop boxes is the latest example of how he has injected considerable uncertainty at an already challenging time for election officials, working on tight schedules and budgets.

“Ballot drop boxes must be securely constructed in order to prevent tampering. They take time to procure and install, and can often be costly. Your appeal wastes precious time and risks disenfranchising countless working class Ohioans, seniors, and people with disabilities living in geographically distant areas or without access to transportation. Fortunately, Ohio is blessed with scores of talented union tradespeople ready to put their skills to work for the benefit of democracy,” wrote the lawmakers.

On Sept. 18, the lawmakers sent a letter to Sec. LaRose urging him to comply with a Franklin County Court of Common Pleas’ ruling directing him to allow multiple secure ballot drop boxes.

Brown, Kaptur, Fudge, Beatty and Ryan also sent a letter to Secretary LaRose earlier this month asking him to use his existing authority to prepay postage for absentee ballots and ballot applications for the upcoming 2020 General Election in Ohio. The lawmakers also urged Sec. LaRose to communicate with the Postal Service to ensure ballots that originate in Ohio are delivered on time, with visible postmarks, and do not succumb to delays and cost cutting measures, which could endanger timely delivery of vote by mail ballots.

Last month, in the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis and the Trump administration’s attempts to undercut the United States Postal Service (USPS), Secretary LaRose inexplicably banned county boards of elections from providing more than one ballot drop box for completed absentee ballots. He acted to ban additional secure drop boxes at the same time that absentee ballot applications were “pouring into Ohio’s boards of elections at an unprecedented rate.” In August, Brown, Kaptur, Beatty, Fudge, and Ryan sent a letter to Sec. LaRose urging him to reconsider his decision, explaining his clear authority to permit multiple drop boxes in each county. This authority was affirmed by the Franklin County Court’s ruling on Tuesday.

A breakdown of Ohio voters per drop box in each county can be found here.

Full text of the letter sent today can be found here and below:

September 28, 2020

The Honorable Frank LaRose

Secretary Of State

22 North Fourth Street, 16th Floor

Columbus, Ohio 43215

 

Dear Secretary of State LaRose,

Like you, we have repeatedly heard from Ohio voters and election officials concerned about their ability to locate additional secure ballot drop boxes in their counties. Your refusal to comply with a court ruling that you possess the authority to expand the number of ballot drop boxes in each county has injected considerable uncertainty at an already challenging time for elections officials, working on tight schedules and budgets. Fortunately, there is a solution: the men and women of Ohio State Sheet Metal Workers Locals #24 and #33, as well as the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council stand ready to build additional secure ballot boxes, at no cost to the state. We urge you to drop your appeal immediately and work with the skilled and dedicated tradespeople of Ohio to locate additional drop boxes across all 88 counties.

Following your decision to prohibit more than one drop box per county, the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas issued a ruling clarifying the legality and necessity of locating multiple drop boxes in each county.[1] According to the Court’s decision, not only is it within your authority to allow boards of election to locate multiple drop boxes in each county, to do otherwise would be “arbitrary and unreasonable”. [2]

Ballot drop boxes must be securely constructed in order to prevent tampering. They take time to procure and install, and can often be costly. Your appeal wastes precious time and risks disenfranchising countless working class Ohioans, seniors, and people with disabilities living in geographically distant areas or without access to transportation. Fortunately, Ohio is blessed with scores of talented union tradespeople ready to put their skills to work for the benefit of democracy. Specifically, the Ohio State Sheet Metal Workers Locals #24 and #33, as well as the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council are willing to build additional secure ballot drop boxes for the upcoming election at no cost to the state of Ohio. These hard-working men and women have stepped up to support Ohio voters by ensuring that all eligible voters can access the ballot box safely and securely.  We urge you to drop your appeal, accept their gracious offer and immediately begin working with County Boards of Election to locate these drop boxes conveniently across all 88 counties in Ohio. Thank you for your prompt consideration of our request.

Sincerely,

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