Originally published on Aug. 24, 2020 at WTOL.com
TOLEDO, Ohio — President Donald Trump denounced ballot drop boxes, such as the ones that will be available in Ohio for the general election, as a "voter security disaster" in a tweet Sunday morning that has since been flagged for violating "Twitter Rules about civic and election integrity."
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has directed all 88 county boards of elections in the state to offer one singular drop box in which voters can cast their completed ballots and absentee ballot applications.
Meanwhile, Ohio Democrats have come out asking LaRose to expand the number of boxes throughout the state.
Trump's tweet pointed the finger at Democrats and raised questions about the integrity of those boxes by asking, "who controls them, are they placed in Republican or Democrat areas?"
LaRose's office declined to comment on Trump's tweet, but his directive requires that every day, at least one Republican and one Democratic member of the local board or staff retrieve, together, the boxes' contents.
Additionally, the boxes are required to be monitored 24/7, though LaRose's office did not go into detail about how exactly this will be done or what measures will be in place.
In fact, Ohio Democrats have been critical of LaRose for not allowing county boards of elections to make multiple boxes available for voters, including U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, who accused the secretary of suppressing voters last week.
The secretary tweeted back at Brown, saying every county will have a drop box available for voters for the first time in a general election. He added that had never happened in Ohio before, "let alone when" the senator was secretary of state.
Ohio Reps. Paula Hicks-Hudson and Catherine Ingram addressed a letter to LaRose with similar criticism on Aug. 12.
"We have asked you to install multiple secure drop boxes so voters may confidently deliver their ballots back to their local officials without three trips through the mail. You've said you can't do it - even though boards of elections have used drop boxes for years," the letter read.
Back in March, when the primaries had to be postponed to April and voters were urged to vote absentee, Gov. Mike DeWine signed a coronavirus-relief bill that required boards of elections to have drop off boxes available for voters.
Under this bill, LaRose issued the directive for the boards to have the same boxes available for the general election on the same day the Democrats sent him the letter.
Again, LaRose addressed the issue during a press conference on that same day and said that adding new boxes would be under the Ohio General Assembly's purview.
"Candidly, I asked the attorney general to weigh in on this because it was a question of law and whether the state law permitted that. What I decided to do, rather than to wait for continued legal analysis, was to move forward and say, 'We are not going to allow the addition of more drop boxes,'" he said.
The secretary said he thinks expanding the boxes is a "fine idea for the future" and he hopes the legislature weighs in on it. He added with just a few months until Election Day, he doesn't think it's time to change the way his office has operated and risk litigation.
Recently, the boxes' use has been expanded to allow voters to drop off their absentee ballot application forms as well. On Oct. 31, the contents must be retrieved at noon, which is the deadline for when county boards must receive absentee ballot applications. Similarly, on Nov. 3, the contents must be retrieved at 7:30 p.m., when polls close.
Starting Tuesday, Sept 1., all boards of elections in the state must begin to provide voters with 24/7 access to the drop box.