Posts Tagged 'provisional ballots'

Rep. Clyde Urges Immediate Action to Help Voters Find Polling Location

This week, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals halted an order by the district court requiring ballots cast in the wrong polling place due to misdirection by the poll worker to be counted.  State Rep. Kathleen Clyde today sent the following letter to Secretary of State Jon Husted about the decision urging him to provide voters with the tools they need to get their ballot counted.

A cop of the letter can be seen below:

November 2, 2012

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

Dear Secretary Husted,

The recent decision by the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals requiring ballots cast in the wrong polling place to be thrown out even if poll worker error causes the problem disenfranchises Ohio voters.  The Court indicated that voters receive notification of where they vote and can look up their polling location on your website.  However, both statements are false for the vast majority of provisional voters – those who have moved and not yet updated their address.  These voters are not notified of where they must vote because they have moved and the Boards have their old addresses on file.  Nor can these voters find their polling place on your website because your website only shows the voter’s polling location for the voter’s old address.  Many county websites also provide no way for voters who have moved to find their new polling place. 

I ask that you quickly provide the capability for voters to find their polling location on your website now that these voters are at greater risk of having their ballot thrown out if they rely on a poll worker’s instructions.  Both tools on your website only help those who updated their address before Oct. 9.  Tens of thousands of voters will show up across the state on Election Day who have moved and who are still entitled to vote under our laws. 

The tools on your website also will not help the 33,000 voters who used your online registration update system but have not yet had their registration updated because of a major mistake made by your office.  Given the extreme delay by your office in updating their information and the inadequate public outreach done to educate voters about the problem, you owe it to the voters to provide useful tools on your website so they know where to vote.   

While we disagree on how to treat votes cast in the wrong place because of poll worker error, hopefully we can agree that the right thing to do is provide this large group of provisional voters the information they need to properly cast their vote and have it counted. 

This problem will affect tens of thousands of voters, and the need is urgent.  I hope you will respond accordingly.


Kathleen Clyde
State Representative                                                                
House District 68



Rep. Clyde Disappointed in Appeal of Voter-Friendly Ruling

This week, a federal district court ordered Boards of Elections to count provisional ballots that are cast in the wrong precinct due to poll worker error.   Secretary Husted has announced he will appeal the decision to count votes.

“I am very disappointed that the Secretary of State wants to allow poll worker error to cause ballots to be thrown out.  Punishing the voters for poll worker error is voter suppression that violates our rights to due process and equal protection of the laws.  The Secretary of State is trying to paint this decision as allowing voters to vote anywhere in their county.  That is not true.  Only ballots cast in the wrong prescient due to poll worker error will be counted,” said Rep. Kathleen Clyde. 

In August, the district court shut down Secretary Husted’s effort to throw out provisional ballots that might be cast in the right polling place but wrong precinct due to poll worker error.  The State appealed and the Sixth Circuit agreed that disqualifying such ballots would violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection of the laws. After further lower court proceedings clarifying that ballots cast in the wrong polling place and wrong precinct must also count, Secretary Husted is appealing the order to count votes.  Over 14,000 provisional ballots were rejected in 2008 because they were cast in the wrong precinct. 

Rep. Clyde said, “Secretary Husted’s website does not even have a search tool for voters who have moved to find their new polling place.  But he seeks to throw out their ballots if they guess wrong or rely on the mistaken advice of a poll worker.  That is not fair and I’m confident the Court will protect these voters.”


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. 


Kathleen Clyde
State Representative                                                              
House District 68

Alicia Reece
State Representative
House District 33



Rep. Heard Applauds New System But Warns it Will Not Solve Problems for All Voters

State Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard released the following statement in response to the Ohio Secretary of State’s new online change of address system.

While this new system will make it easier for some Ohioans to update their registration information, many voters without access to the internet or knowledge of this new system will still show up to vote needing to change their address on election day.  And thousands of voters will still have their provisional ballots thrown out due to poll workers’ innocent errors.

“I applaud the Secretary of State’s attempt to make it easier for registered voters to update their registration information hopefully resulting in fewer provisional ballots.  Sadly, full online registration for all was passed by the legislature this session and then repealed by Republicans,” said Rep. Heard.

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit in federal district court seek to have Ohio’s provisional ballot counting law declared unconstitutional and to have a solution implemented involving a simple poll worker checklist.  This solution will allow poll worker error to be easily documented and allow voter’s ballots to be counted instead of thrown out when an innocent error has occurred.  The court’s decision is expected to be issued soon. 

“This online system is a step in the right direction, and I urge Secretary Husted to also implement a system that will deal with the inevitable human errors that will occur on Election Day in a way that counts every eligible voter’s vote,” Heard added. “No citizen’s vote should be thrown out because of error.  We must ensure every vote counts.”

During his press conference today, Secretary Husted referred to a report called “Counting the Vote” and it’s high ranking of Ohio. The report scored only Ohio’s voting technology and notes that Ohio doesn’t do reckless things like vote without a paper trail, or internet voting which would put us at risk of cyber-tampering.  However, the report fails to mention the shamefully high number of votes being rejected in Ohio.  Ohio is in fact a leader in the country for throwing out ballots.   

Secretary Husted has repeatedly talked about mailing absentee ballot applications to all registered voters in all 88 counties across the state. However, the directive on the mailing only contains plans to mail applications to voters that are registered by Sept. 28, 2012, meaning voters who register during the final 11 days of voter registration will not be sent a ballot application. 

“Secretary Husted promised the people of Ohio that every voter would receive an absentee application mailed to them, and I encourage him to live up to that promise and make sure voters registering during the final 11 days also receive an absentee ballot application,” said Rep. Heard.


House Dems Urge Caution with Unprecedented Legislative Repeal

Ohio House Democrats held a press conference to urge caution as House Republicans look to move forward with an unprecedented partial legislative repeal (SB 295) of HB 194.   The measures also includes additional language beyond repealing HB 194, which lawmakers contend will make this unprecedented legislative maneuver is ripe for a constitutional challenge.

“This theme is playing out across the country. In the 2008 presidential election, record numbers of young people, lower income people, and minorities voted.  Since then, Republicans have been executing a strategy to make it more difficult for those populations to vote, thereby trying to ensure their success at the ballot box this November – not by winning a clean campaign on the issues, but by gaming the system, creating voter confusion and chaos, and pursuing a set of punitive rules that hurt voters.  It is outrageous, and we will continue to speak out about their dirty tricks and tactics,” said State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D- Kent).

Most recently Reps. Clyde and Gerberry reached out to Speaker Batchelder over the legislative spring break, urging caution with the Republicans’ unprecedented legislative repeal bill of HB 194 through SB 295.  In a letter to Speaker Batchelder they laid out three consensus-building steps on how Democrats can work with the Republican leaders to ensure a smooth election this fall. First, any bill should contain a clean repeal of HB 194, not a partial repeal like SB 295. Second, bi-partisan support and consent of the petition committee would be required. Third, Republicans would have to make a firm public commitment not to make other election law changes at any point before November.  A copy of the letter to the Speaker is attached.

“Time and time again we have given Republicans the opportunity to work with us to improve our elections system, but they refuse and at every turn Republican leaders of this state prove they will stop at nothing to disenfranchise voters,” said State Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry, ranking member of the State Government and Elections Committee (D-Austintown).  I am incredibly disappointed in my colleague’s decision to continue to pursue yet another lawsuit; it is a complete abdication of our duty to the people of this state to use their hard earned tax dollars in an attempt to make their voices silent and their votes unheard.” 

 “A pre-emptive legislative repeal to a law that has been certified for a citizen’s referendum has never occurred in the Ohio General Assembly’s 209-year history.  Pursuing such an unprecedented maneuver with broad partisan opposition will only strengthen a potential constitutional challenge,” said State Rep. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron).  “Furthermore, continuing to pursue lawsuits at the federal and state level on the taxpayer’s dime in an effort to receive a different outcome is simply unacceptable.”

Yesterday, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals again ruled against Secretary of State Jon Husted and Hamilton County Republicans, ordering that provisional ballots in the undecided 2010 Hamilton Country Juvenile Court judge’s race be counted.  In response, Senate President Niehaus and Rep. Blessing filed a suit in the Ohio Supreme Court against Secretary Husted in another desperate attempt to throw out registered voters’ provisional ballots.  Using taxpayer dollars to argue against counting eligible voters ballots, often cast due to poll worker error, shows just how out of whack Republicans’ priorities are.


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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