A. Philip Randolph Institute, et al. v. LaRose
Case Dates:Thursday, 27 August, 2020 - ongoing
On August 12, 2020, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose issued Directive 2020-16 prohibiting Ohio Boards of Elections from installing secure drop boxes for receiving ballots and ballot applications at any location other than the Board office. But limiting counties to a single drop box per county disfavors voters of highly populated counties relative to those of lightly populated counties. For example, Noble County has 7,903 registered voters, while Cuyahoga County has 858,041. The Secretary’s directive particularly disfavors voters who are poorer and people of color who are fearful of voting in person because the pandemic has disproportionately devastated these populations.
The directive limiting drop boxes to a sole drop box in a single location per county places a heavy burden on voters living in Ohio’s largest and most populous counties in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. Burdens on the exercise of the right to vote must fall equally on the citizens of a state. The directive also violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution because it is a burden on the exercise of the right to vote that is not justified by any sufficiently weighty state interest.
The Ohio Chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the Ohio chapter of the NAACP, and several individual Ohio voters filed a lawsuit in federal district court for the Northern District of Ohio on August 26, 2020. We joined as co-counsel the next day. We filed a motion for a Preliminary Injunction on September 4, 2020.