COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ballot drop boxes could be eliminated in future Ohio elections if a new bill is signed into law.
Sen. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) just introduced Senate Bill 184 to do just that.
“It is of an urgent nature that we need to repeal drop boxes and then ban them,” Antani said.
This is not the first time conversations about drop boxes have come up at the statehouse; last year, lawmakers passed House Bill 458. That bill, now law, made several changes to elections including the allowance of one ballot drop box per country at their Board of Elections.
“The fact that drop boxes were legalized in the bill was a poison in the bill, and now we have to undo this,” Antani said.
Antani said he worries about the integrity of elections with the use of drop boxes, specifically ballot harvesting. Antani did not have any examples of this being an issue in the state but said he worries about it in the near future.
“We know that Ohio recently hasn’t been a competitive state but, in the future, we know with [Senator] Sherrod Brown’s (D-Ohio) race and many other races, it is going to become more competitive, and we are going to see Democrats using this tool illegally to ballot harvest,” he said.
Under the state’s law, drop boxes are required to always be monitored by video surveillance and the video recordings are public record. Sen. Bill DeMora (D-Columbus) is already opposing the newly proposed legislation and said Antani is trying to fix a problem that does not exist.
“It’s not a valid concern; ballot harvesting doesn’t happen,” DeMora said. “Ballot drop boxes are secure. And not once since we’ve had boxes have there been instances of someone breaking into a box, stealing something, or dropping off hundreds of ballots at one time.”
DeMora said drop boxes give voters a secure 24-hour option to cast their vote, but Antani argued that the state already offers plenty of options.
“There are 28 days of early in-person voting, there is voting on Election Day, and even though I oppose it, we have 28 days of mail-in absentee voting,” Antani said. “We don’t need unsecured drop boxes outside of boards of elections that can easily be tampered with and that allow illegal ballot harvesting.”
“Getting rid of drop boxes is ludicrous,” DeMora said. “We already have the strictest voter ID laws in the country and now we want to get rid of the drop box.”
In Franklin County, so far, more than 3,075 Ohioans have voted via drop box ahead of next week’s election, and there are still more than 19,000 outstanding absentee ballots. For the August special election, 3,851 Ohioans cast their ballot via drop box.
“It [SB 184] doesn’t stop somebody from getting out of their car or off the bus and walking into the board of elections and handing the ballot in to a board of elections employee,” Antani said. “There are plenty of ways to turn in your mail-in ballot other than drop boxes, which only are there to help people ballot harvest.”
“Eliminating these things is utter stupidity and ridiculous,” DeMora said. “Being able to drop off a ballot at your convenience is critical to have people turn in their votes. The right to vote is what the country is based on.”
The bill now awaits committee assignment.