A judge in Ohio ruled Tuesday that counties could deploy multiple drop boxes for absentee ballots in November, a victory for Democrats in a traditional battleground state that President Trump won easily in 2016.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose of Ohio, a Republican who supports President Trump, had attempted to limit to one the number of ballot boxes at each county office, leading to a lawsuit from the Ohio Democratic Party, which argued that the practice would disenfranchise voters in the state’s 88 counties.
On Monday, Mr. LaRose moved to block the installation of six drop boxes at libraries in Cuyahoga County, home to Cleveland and a substantial percentage of the state’s Black voters; Tuesday’s decision likely clears the way for their placement.
Drop boxes have become a flash point in battles between Republicans and Democrats in several states because they provide voters with an option for casting absentee ballots without having to rely on mail delivery.
Judge Richard Frye of the Franklin County Common Pleas Court ruled that state law did not preclude the installation of multiple drop boxes per county, and that Mr. LaRose’s order was “arbitrary and unreasonable” in the midst of a pandemic.
Local boards of election are allowed to “tailor ballot drop box locations or conceivably other secure options to the needs of their individual county,” the judge wrote.
It was not immediately clear if Mr. LaRose would appeal.
A similar lawsuit was filed Monday in Iowa, where the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa and Majority Forward is challenging state limits on ballot drop box locations.
Guidelines issued this month by Secretary of State Paul D. Pate of Iowa, a Republican, limit drop boxes to locations in county buildings or directly outside of them. The guidance came after one county set up drop boxes at grocery stores, citing their convenience for voters.