Posts Tagged 'count the votes'

Democrats Demand Compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964

House and Senate Democrats joined together to demand that Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and stop rejecting provisional and absentee ballots because of minor paperwork mistakes.

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires that no vote be thrown out because of a simple paperwork mistake made by a poll worker, a voter, or any other person,” stated Sen. Nina Turner (D-Cleveland).  “Yet many provisional and absentee ballots are being disqualified for that very reason.  Secretary Husted must stop creating obstacles, start following the law, and count these votes.”

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 reads, “No person acting under color of law shall . . . deny the right of any individual to vote in any election because of an error or omission on any record or paper relating to any application, registration, or other act requisite to voting, if such error or omission is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under State law to vote in such election.”  42 USC 1971(a)(2)(B).

“Let’s not turn the clock back and start ignoring provisions of the Civil Rights Act,” stated Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati).  “We are throwing out provisional ballots left and right because of paperwork errors made by poll workers directing voters to the wrong precinct, and this must stop.”

House Democrats have closely scrutinized the ballot-counting process in two closely contested house races that could determine whether the Republicans have gerrymandered themselves into a supermajority despite losing the statewide popular vote.  Many violations of federal law have been uncovered, including the rejecting of many provisional and absentee ballots because of simple paperwork mistakes.

“Voters’ ballots have been thrown out in Tuscarawas County because poll workers made mistakes in which envelope to use, on paperwork they were required to complete, and in failing to have voters complete required fields,” said Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent).  “Secretary Husted should immediately issue a directive requiring counties to comply with federal law.”

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Rep. Clyde Seeks Immediate Action to Ensure Counting of Valid Votes

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde today sent the following letter to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted urging compliance with federal law.  The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (the “Motor Voter” law) requires the counting of certain ballots cast in a voter’s former precinct.

See the letter below:

November 21, 2012

Secretary of State Jon Husted
180 E. Broad Street, 16th floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Dear Secretary Husted,

County boards of election are now meeting to count provisional ballots and must certify their official canvass results by Tuesday of next week.  It has come to my attention that a category of ballots protected by federal law is not being counted in some or all counties.

At a meeting of the Tuscarawas County Board of Elections on Monday, November 19, 2012, the board staff recommended that all ballots cast in the wrong precinct and wrong polling location be rejected.  The board members initially tie voted but, after receiving input from your office, later adopted the staff recommendation of rejection of all but one of these ballots.  The deputy director of the board stated that these ballots are mostly cast by people who have moved but return to their former precinct to vote.  Under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, such ballots must be counted so long as the voter’s former precinct and new precinct are in the same county and same congressional district.  See 42 USCS § 1973gg-6.

Your office has continually fought the counting of ballots cast in the wrong precinct even when poll worker error is at fault.  But on this point, there can be no dispute: federal law clearly requires the counting of this particular subset of ballots cast in a voter’s former precinct.  I ask that you issue a directive today telling counties to comply with federal law and count these ballots.

Respectfully,

Kathleen Clyde
State Representative

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State Rep. Alicia Reece Applauds Decision of Federal Court to Count Provisional Ballots

State Representative Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) of the 33rd House District, applauded the decision issued yesterday by United States District Court Judge Algenon L. Marbley ordering that provisional ballots cast in the wrong polling location must be counted. Earlier this month, the decision to count provisional ballots cast in the right polling location, but wrong precinct, known as “right church, wrong pew” ballots, was upheld. This newest ruling takes voter protection a step further by also counting “wrong church, wrong pew” ballots.

State Rep. Alicia Reece (D- Cincinnati), who introduced H.B. 76 (“Count the Votes” Bill) in February of 2011, released the following statement:

“While I am saddened that the Ohio General Assembly did not pass legislation to count provisional ballots where poll-worker error occurred, I am pleased the federal court has ruled to ensure the votes of Ohioans are fairly counted. This decision is a victory for voter’s rights and for the voters of Ohio. I would urge the State of Ohio not to appeal this decision and to restore the integrity of our voting process.”

Reps. Clyde and Reece Urge Sec. Husted Not to Appeal Court Order to Count Votes

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) and State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) are calling on Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to accept a federal court order to stop needlessly throwing out provisional ballots and disenfranchising voters.

“This court order is a simple solution to a shameful problem.  If followed, thousands of Ohioans will have their vote counted this fall instead of having it thrown out, tossed on a heap of rejected provisional ballots,” Rep. Clyde said.

Reece and Clyde sent a letter to Husted explaining that Ohio is among the leading states for disenfranchising voters with provisional ballots and that there is a huge disparity in counting votes from county to county.  Voters in larger counties with higher percentages of African-American voters saw higher rates of ballot rejection in 2008.

“Often the problem is the poll worker has made an error, or it is as simple as a voter is confused by being in the right polling location, but at the wrong table. These votes were cast provisionally and often went uncounted.  Finally, Ohio will start using common sense in counting votes,” Rep. Reece said.

Husted has sued multiple times to stop the courts from ordering that these provisional votes are counted. There is a provisional ballot crisis in Ohio and the federal court has ordered a solution that is easy to implement.

Secretary Husted and Republican lawmakers have for years resisted Democrats’ efforts to fix this problem legislatively.  They instead acted to make the problem worse by advocating for and passing legislation that would have created more reasons to throw out provisional ballots and let poll workers abandon their duty to direct voters to the correct precinct. 

See the letter below: 

Secretary of State Jon Husted
180 E. Broad Street, 16th floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Dear Secretary Husted, 

Yesterday, a federal court judge again ruled that Ohio’s provisional ballot counting process is unconstitutional and has ordered you to require Boards of Election not to let poll worker error stand in the way of counting valid votes.  We write to ask that you not waste taxpayer dollars appealing this common-sense ruling. This ruling will bring real fairness and uniformity to provisional vote counting.

The federal court is finally addressing a serious problem with Ohio elections.  In 2008, Ohio threw out 39,989 provisional ballots.  According to data from your website and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Ohio ranked in the top seven states in the country for rejected provisional ballots compared with total ballots cast.  In 2008, one in every 145 ballots cast in Ohio was thrown out due to provisional ballot problems.  This must end.

Worse, the chance that your ballot is thrown out for a provisional ballot problem is higher in counties with larger African-American populations.   The numbers don’t lie. In 2008 in Cuyahoga County, 1 of every 91 ballots was thrown out for provisional ballot problems, whereas in Pike County, only 1 in 1,285 was rejected for the same reason.  In Franklin County, 1 in 110 ballots were rejected for provisional ballot problems, three times higher than the rate of Delaware County where 1 in 333 ballots were rejected.  In Hamilton County, 1 of every 109 ballots were rejected, twice the rate of Warren County where 1 in 209 ballots were rejected for provisional ballot problems.  That is not uniform.  This ruling will reduce this disparity. 

You recently announced that voters can now change their address online by the registration deadline of October 9, 2012.  While that is a step in the right direction, voters will still show up on Election Day needing to change their address as Ohio law allows.  We will still have tens of thousands of provisional ballots cast as in past elections. 

The court has decided that Ohio must sew up the gaping hole in our voting safety net.  We urge you to accept the court’s decision, not to appeal it, and to start implementing the fair and common-sense solution that will enable all eligible voters to have their voices heard in Ohio’s elections.  The presidential election is only a few months away, so this is no time for uncertainty.  You have the opportunity to preside over the most successful election in recent history if you stop fighting the counting of votes. 

Respectfully,

Kathleen Clyde
State Representative                                                              
House District 68

Alicia Reece
State Representative
House District 33

 

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Dem Lawmakers Disappointed in Husted’s Decision to Fight Counting Votes

State Representatives Kathleen Clyde and Alicia Reece expressed disappointment in Secretary of State Husted’s decision to appeal the federal court ruling to count provisional ballots in the undecided Hamilton County Juvenile judge race.

“I am incredibly disappointed in Secretary Husted’s decision to continue to drag out this voting debacle by once again appealing the federal court ruling to count the votes. The continued delay in resolving this case will cost citizens more of their hard earned tax dollars and further undermines confidence in Ohio’s election process,” said Rep. Reece. “Every citizen deserves to have their vote counted, and we will continue to fight for what is right and just.”

Last week, the Hamilton County Board of Elections came to a tie vote on whether to pursue yet another appeal of the federal court’s decision in favor of counting the provisional ballots.  Siding with the GOP board members, Secretary Husted voted late yesterday to appeal the decision. 

“Ohio has a provisional ballot crisis and Secretary Husted’s decision will only continue to prolong it in a crucial presidential election year,” said. Rep. Clyde.  “Secretary Husted has voted in favor of throwing out citizens’ votes even where poll workers admit they made a simple mistake and sent a voter to the wrong table. This is simply unacceptable.  It is the government’s job to tell voters where to vote and to count their votes.”

Last year, at an earlier stage of the 15-month long litigation, Secretary Husted voted with the GOP members of the Hamilton County Board of Elections to appeal an earlier order from the federal district court to count the provisional ballots.  The United States 6th Circuit Court of Appeals then said that Ohio’s provisional ballot laws operate in a way that is “fundamentally unfair to the voters of Ohio, in abrogation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of due process of law” and refused to overturn the district court’s decision to count the votes.  Likewise, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the 6th Circuit’s ruling.


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