A voting rights group keen on expanding access to ballot drop boxes in November’s election is getting a second chance to make its case, after a federal judge agreed Thursday to reconsider his earlier ruling.
U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland had dismissed the A. Philip Randolph Institute's case Tuesday, because he said Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose had issued a new order a day earlier that permitted ballot drop boxes at multiple locations within a county. That had been what the institute's lawsuit was seeking.
But LaRose's office said, by allowing drop boxes “outside” boards of elections, his new directive was meant to restrict them to board property just outside the building — not to allow them off-site.
The competing interpretations left the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in a legal bind. Polster ruled that they could move forward with their plan to set up ballot drop boxes at six public libraries scattered around the county. Lawyers for LaRose immediately ordered the county not to proceed, calling Polster's interpretation of the order “expressly contrary” to its intent.
In a motion for reconsideration filed Wednesday, the institute's lawyers said Polster's interpretation “relied on the belief that Defendant LaRose had taken action to address the ‘looming crisis for voters’ in Cuyahoga County. Defendant LaRose, however, has utterly failed to take any such action.”
The dispute comes as ballot drop boxes have become an appealing option for voters seeking to address worries about voting in person due to the coronavirus pandemic and worries that voting by mail may not be reliable, a misstaken idea that has been promoted by Republican President Donald Trump.