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Appeals Court Issues Stay On Electronic Absentee Ballot Requests

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose marks National Registration Day at the Franklin County Board of Elections in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019.
Julie Carr Smyth
Associated Press

One of the lawsuits filed over voting in Ohio saw some action this weekend, as Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose received an emergency stay to keep him from having to accept absentee ballot requests by fax or email.

Late Friday afternoon, a Franklin County Common Pleas Court judge ruled in favor of the Ohio Democratic Party, saying requests for mail-in ballots transmitted electronically through email or by fax must be accepted. Currently, Ohio voters living overseas can request ballots electronically, but most Ohioans must fill out a printed ballot request and mail it or drop it off in person.

LaRose asked the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay, contending that allowing all voters to request ballots electronically would open up the system to fraud and would cause confusion this close to Election Day.

On Saturday, the appeals court halted the preliminary injunction pending the outcome of an appeals process it said would be “expedited for briefing, oral argument, and determination.”

Ohio Democratic Party chair David Pepper says LaRose is making the system more difficult than it should be. He says there is no reason why LaRose cannot allow every Ohio voter to request ballots electronically.

“Why should someone be able to send it from Russia and not Russia, Ohio?" Pepper asks.

More than 1 million mail-in ballots have already been requested. That’s more than the total mail-in votes in the spring primary.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.