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Ohio Trade Unions Tell Secretary Of State They'll Make Ballot Drop Boxes For Free

The secure ballot drop box at the Franklin County Board of Elections on Morse Road.
Darrin McDonald
The secure ballot drop box at the Franklin County Board of Elections on Morse Road.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) says more ballot drop boxes are needed for Ohio's fall election, and says union tradespeople are offering to make them at no cost so they can be put in place promptly.

Brown, a former Ohio Secretary of State, says this election is on par to having historic turnout. 

“We’ve seen already more absentee ballot requests than we saw throughout 2016. So there’s going to be a huge turnout," Brown said. "We ought to make it easier for people so there’s less congestion. That’s why you want more drop boxes."

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is appealing a lower court ruling that said he should and could have more drop boxes installed, especially in larger counties. In August, the Secretary of State's Office issued a directive to election boards restricting them from adding more than one ballot drop box, prompting two lawsuits from Democrats and voting rights groups.

LaRose, who has previously expressed support for expanding ballot drop boxes, argues that adding boxes this close to the election would be too costly and confusing for voters.

Mike Knisley of the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council sent a letter to LaRose on Monday saying the sheet metal workers union has offered "to build additional secure ballot drop boxes for the upcoming election at no cost to the State of Ohio."

Brown, along with Democratic Reps. Marcy Kaptur, Joyce Beatty, Tim Ryan and Marcia Fudge, urged LaRose to drop his appeal and accept the offer from the Ohio State Sheet Metal Workers unions.

"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," the letter reads. "Fortunately, Ohio is blessed with scores of talented union tradespeople ready to put their skills to work for the benefit of democracy."

In a written statement, Ohio Secretary of State spokeswoman Maggie Sheehan responded, "This concerns a matter that is still being litigated in the courts, and because of this, we cannot provide comment."

Early voting in Ohio begins on Tuesday, October 6. Ohioans can register to vote online until October 5.