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Appeals Court Rules Ohio Doesn't Have To Allow Online Absentee Ballot Requests

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, overseeing the Election Night Reporting Center, in Columbus, Ohio, calls for the closing of the polls in the Ohio primary election, Tuesday, April 28, 2020.
Gene Puskar
/
Associated Press
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, overseeing the Election Night Reporting Center, in Columbus, Ohio, calls for the closing of the polls in the Ohio primary election, Tuesday, April 28, 2020.

An appeals court has ruled Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose does not have to allow online absentee ballot requests for Ohioans who want to vote by mail.

A Franklin County Court of Common Pleas judge had said LaRose had to allow electronic requests as the Ohio Democratic Party wanted. Late Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the 10th District Court of Appeals ruled that the order could burden county election boards and pose a security risk.

Party chair David Pepper says while the appeals court didn’t require LaRose to accept electronic requests, it didn’t bar him from doing that if he wants.

“There’s nothing in Ohio law that prohibits him from doing this. He could go ahead and do it if he wanted to," Pepper says.

While Ohio voters living overseas can request absentee ballots electronically, through email or fax, most Ohioans living domestically must fill out a printed ballot request and mail it or drop it off in person.

LaRose spokesperson Maggie Sheehan says the court unanimously agreed cybersecurity concerns were “too great to abandon Ohio’s safe and accessible system this close to the election.”

Pepper says he is considering an appeal.