Voting Rights

The Courts Can't Decide How Many Ballot Drop Boxes Ohio Needs, and Now Everyone Else Is Confused Too

An appeals court upheld a rule by the Ohio Secretary of State to limit each county to just one ballot box, overturning a previous ruling that said more boxes were needed.


A federal appeals court ruled on October 9 that Ohio can restrict ballot drop boxes to one per county, overturning a previous federal court ruling that said more boxes must be provided.

The whole back-and-forth affair—which is taking place just weeks before Election Day, during a time when Ohioans are already casting ballots—highlights the type of confusion rampant in the lead-up to the 2020 election. In many places, the final stage of the election has become a battle over the mechanics of the voting process, rather than a contest of ideas.

In Ohio, that battle began when Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, ordered counties to set up a single ballot drop-off box at the county election office. That order was challenged by, among others, the Ohio NAACP and the Ohio League of Women Voters, and on October 8 a federal district judge blocked LaRose's order. U.S. District Judge Dan Polster cited the "disproportionate effect on people of color" that the order would have, and wrote that LaRose was "continuing to restrict [election] boards," and was "doing so in an arbitrary manner."

LaRose appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which on October 9 granted a stay of Polster's order in a split 2-1 decision. The dissenter, Bush appointee Judge Helene White, cited the "constitutionality of an eleventh-hour directive issued unilaterally by a single elected official to disrupt the established plans of bipartisan county boards of elections endeavoring to perform their duty to administer a fair and orderly election in their jurisdictions."

"This week, voters enthusiastically demonstrated how easy it is to vote in Ohio," LaRose said. "The higher court's opinion only reinforces Ohio's standing as a leader in accessible and secure voting options."

The battle over the ballot drop boxes in Ohio is just one of several similar fights taking place in other states as the election nears. In Texas, a federal judge blocked restrictions on ballot box placement, saying that they were an undue restriction on the right to vote.

The Texas restriction was overturned by yet another court decision, but it's indicative of a larger fight over mail-in voting. The combination of a presidential election and a mass pandemic has led to record numbers of mail-in ballots being cast this year. In Ohio, for instance, the number of mail-in ballots requested by September had surpassed the number of mail-in ballots requested for the entire state in 2016.

Despite these various court cases, the real losers are the voters, who are left in limbo as voting rulings change from day to day.

NEXT: Trump Can End Census Now, Says Supreme Court in Ruling That Could Have Big Impact on House Seats

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  1. >>”disproportionate effect on people of color”

    the disproportionate effect is on people who can’t count to one.

    1. seems more of a disproportionate effect on the wealthier people who don’t live near the county offices

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      3. County offices are in bus routes, which less affluent, seniors, disabled, and veterans can take with reduced fees in normal times. Due to coronavirus, all buses are free.

        So don’t give the excuse that the poor can’t take a damn bus to drop off.

        And the poor can simply drop it in the mail without postage.

        “The U.S. Postal Service’s policy is not to delay the delivery of a completed absentee ballot because of insufficient or unpaid postage.”

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  2. “In many places, the final stage of the election has become a battle over the mechanics of the voting process, rather than a contest of ideas.”

    This is to be expected in a country barreling toward a civil war. When the act of convincing and persuading others is deemed by millions to be a fruitless endeavor, people fight over the rules before, ultimately, fighting each other to the death.

    1. they’ll still be fighting over the rules after the election, not just before

      1. They’ll still be fighting over the rules in March, of 2022.

  3. Ok, I didn’t see any of this coming.

    1. Perhaps you should peruse more of the enemy websites.
      You have to know what the fascists are up to – – – – – – –

    2. I see, said the blind man when he wasn’t even looking.

  4. ” . . . saying that they were an undue restriction on the right to vote.”

    Well how can that be a restriction?
    Requiring a full background check, paid for by the voter would not be a restriction.
    Requiring a voting permit, (and an associated fee) to be carried at all times would not be a restriction.
    Requiring a civics class, paid for by the voter would not be a restriction.
    Limiting the ballot to only 10 items would not be a restriction.
    Allowing anyone to require you to lose your right to vote for 72 hours of psych evaluation would not be a restriction.
    Taking away your voting permit if your spouse/child/roommate committed a felony would not be a restriction.
    So how can having a single location be a restriction?

    1. Anything that might cause someone somewhere to possibly not vote is a “restriction”.

      1. I thought the preferred term was “voter suppression”

        1. Personally, I go with “infringement”, for constitutional consistency.

  5. SCOTUS has been clear that they don’t like it when voting rules change close to an election. They use that reasoning to reject changes that make it easier to vote. It will be interesting to see if they use that same logic when faced with changes that make it harder to vote.

    1. They got away with it in Arizona.

  6. Apparently your individual right to choose your victimizer is your only true one.

  7. “Despite these various court cases, the real losers are the voters, who are left in limbo as voting rulings change from day to day.”

    Beyond amazed that trying to fundamentally change the entire election system a few months out before a huge election is not going smoothly.

  8. You can go to Walmart or Costco with hundreds of other shoppers, and you’re safe if you wear a mask. Why not just wear a mask to your usual polling place, even if dozens of other voters are there? And mark the waiting line spots with tape the magic six feet apart.

    Or don’t the masks work?

    1. Public health theater, through and through.

    2. The masks don’t work for infection control. The masks are magical talismans meant to calm a nervous population that they’re doing something.

      Think war scrip. Think victory gardens. Think war bonds.

      Masks are meant to placate the old people into shopping, so they feel everyone is protecting them from the deadly disease. It keeps the economy from completely collapsing.

      It also transfers the blame of any infections from the intangible hand of fate to something concrete, “well, you wore it wrong,” or “it was that man who refused to wear a mask.” It gives you something to blame when grandma dies, instead of government or China or a deity.

      Old people aren’t complete idiots. They try to protect themselves, when they can. Most will shop when stores are less crowded. They keep distance. They’ll stuff tissues inside their masks and pray it works. They’ll hire or cajole someone else to shop for them.

      What old people can’t do is have someone place their vote for them. And we know they can’t do it safely, unless there are alternatives to standing in a queue for, possibly, hours, among young and fellow old people.

      And they’ll all need to pee eventually, so should they really be lining up at the voting site TWICE, to get into a little public bathroom, too? Not really fair to them.

      That’s why masks don’t solve the voting problem. That’s why it helps to reduce in-person voting and encourage voting by mail. If just 20% of voters choose mail or early voting, it’ll be easier for the old people to vote safely.

      Substitute old people for disabled and immune-compromised above, where applicable

  9. Maybe it is not optimal for the courts to be micromanaging executive functions at this level.

  10. So, why are Governors suddenly telling the locals how to collect votes? This seems new.

  11. “hand delivery of mail-in ballots”

    So voters can still mail the damned things? Why is this an issue?

    1. Asking for someone to pay for a stamp is racist.

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  13. “The combination of a presidential election and a mass pandemic has led to record numbers of mail-in ballots being cast this year.”

    There’s got to be at least one other factor, but I just can’t put my finger on it.

    BTW remember when I pointed out that I’ve received four different applications for a mail-in ballot, and Dee didn’t see how that could effect the legitimacy of the election? Cuz Pepperidge farm remembers.

  14. Rs know that more voters=more losses for them. It’s pretty simple. They’ll do whatever they can to make it just hard enough to get people to not vote.

    Hell, even Trump, as dumb as he is, can see that.

    1. Walk in votes on Election Day are associated with better R results.

      D voters tend to favor alternative methods and flexible voting days, because they’re losers who can’t hold a job with reliable hours and need multiple chances to get shit done.

  15. are there no mail boxes?

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  17. Not mentioned in the article is what the fucking law says in Ohio, or any of the other states, about the number of drop-off boxes for mail-in ballots, or who gets to decide.
    The federal courts are letting themselves get involved in issues that the Constitution, has placed in the hands of state officials.
    Unless something about mail-in drop-boxes is a clear violation of the Voting Rights Act, the federal courts should stay out of it.
    Most of the court ruling are leftists – which we know can also be appointed by Republicans – trying to give their side a better chance of getting rid of the Bad Orange Man and those who support him.
    Almost everything in our society, nowadays can be broken down into this dynamic.

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