COLUMBUS – Today Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose issued a statement on the decision of the Tenth Court of Appeals (PDF) to grant an emergency stay of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas order to accept absentee ballot requests by fax or e-mail:
“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.”
It's important to note that the order from the Franklin County Common Pleas Court did not create a secure online ballot request system in Ohio. Referring to it in any way as an online ballot request system is inaccurate.
A secure online ballot request system doesn’t utilize e-mail or faxes. Instead, it includes fields to securely provide voter information without an ability to send attachments.
Instead, the Franklin County judge allowed for ballot requests to be transmitted by fax or by sending a picture of a ballot request form to a county’s e-mail address. That means a much more appropriate descriptor is an e-mail/fax ballot request system, or something similar.