“Every one of Ohio’s 722 judges, 800 judges, and several active retired judges should be very concerned and express their dismay at the irresponsible Republican Party’s claim that politics governed the judge’s decision,” she said in a statement Wednesday. “This is an overt and unjustified attack on the judiciary in Ohio.”
According to the Statehouse News Bureau, she added: “Regardless of how the judge ruled, it is only the heart of what I think are efforts to weaken the judiciary, to accuse them of partnership.”
The criticism from O’Connor, a conservative stalwart who was previously lieutenant governor, comes as access to drop-boxing has become a political hotspot. Last month, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) ordered the county elections to make only one such box available per. County, which angered lawmakers and critics concerned about voter repression in major urban areas who need more than a single drop to account for all of its absentee ballots.
A lawsuit filed by the Ohio Democratic Party claimed the state had been silent about the location and number of drop boxes. In a decision Tuesday, Frye blew LaRose’s directive of August 12th. The judge said the Republican secretary of state’s rule was anything but straightforward, mocking it as “equivalent to arguing that each county only needs 100 (or any other arbitrary number) of ballots, regardless of population.”
“This perception of ‘equal treatment’ is nonsense,” Frye said in his decision, according to Bloomberg News.
Frye’s opinion furious Republicans from Ohio who questioned the judge, a Democrat’s impartiality, while accusing him of parroting his party’s speeches as part of his decision.
“After the corruption and deception we have seen from the Ohio Democrats, it is no surprise to discover that they have cooperated with a Democrat Common Pleas Court judge on a decision on ballot boxes,” the GOP in Ohio said in its statement. The party added: “The judge’s interpretation of this law because of his biased affiliation is an obvious obstruction of his legal responsibility.”
O’Connor, who in her statement declined to comment on the benefits of Frye’s decision if she were to ultimately take a stand on it, accused Republicans of trying to undermine confidence in judges by questioning their integrity.
“The Republican Party’s statement must be seen for what it is: part of a sustained series of attacks on any decision that does not favor a political end, regardless of party, even though that decision may be legally correct and in fact legally required,” she said.
LaRose is expected to appeal. A lawyer representing LaRose indicated to local media that the Secretary of State would support that there was more than one box per case. County if it was done legally. (He lacks the legal authority to expand the number beyond the figure set in state law.)
A separate federal lawsuit also challenges the rule. Jon Greenbaum, a lawyer representing the suffrage groups that brought the case, argued to Cleveland.com that LaRose’s move was “an attempt to stifle turnout.”
“It’s an obvious point: if you have more boxes, you have a higher turnout,” he said.
The federal case is opposed by President Trump’s campaign, the Republican National Committee and the Ohio GOP.