Absentee Ballot Order Approved, Then Halted


An Ohio judge ordered Friday that voters be allowed to apply for absentee ballots for the November presidential election by using fax or email. The move was quickly halted by an appellate court.

Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Stephen McIntosh sided with Ohio Democrats in the legal dispute by allowing electronic absentee ballot applications to be filed. Ohio Democratic Chairman David Pepper called this ruling “a big win for Ohio Voters.”

Secretary of State Frank LaRose responded to the decision with alarm saying that “today’s ruling rolls out the red carpet to Russian hackers — painting a giant bullseye on the back of our election system and upending the significant progress Ohio has made on elections cybersecurity.”  And the move “injects chaos into what was already a challenging election for our county boards of elections, and we are confident that a higher court will correct this quickly.”

LaRose took to Twitter to explain his issues with the decision, citing little time between now and the start of early voting, a lack of security, and the existing security procedures voting boards follow to not open attachments. He went on to say he and his team would “aggressively fight” the ruling.

LaRose’s efforts to stop the ruling lead an appellate court to put a hold on online applications for the time being, according to WKYC. The court has asked that arguments for and against the ruling be filed by September 23, after which a new ruling will be handed down.

Dayton247Now said that LaRose issued a statement saying:

A stay pending appeal is a routine component of the legal process and it was absolutely the right decision by the court. Without the stay, it would be open season for hackers to attack our boards IT systems. Ohioans need to understand that forcing our county boards to open thousands of e-mailed attachments is not a secure online absentee ballot request system. It puts our elections system at a far greater risk of cyberattack where just one attachment with a malicious virus could cripple an entire county’s IT infrastructure and degrade the trust voters have in our elections”

Whatever the court’s decision may be, with Ohio being such an important swing state in what is already turning out to be a difficult and chaotic election, it is likely we will see further appeals.

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Ben Kolodny is a reporter for The Ohio Star and the Star News Network. Follow Ben on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected] The Associated Press contributed to this story. 









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