Posts Tagged 'Secretary Husted'

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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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.

Sincerely, 

Kathleen Clyde
State Representative                                                                
House District 68

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Rep. Clyde Slams Sec. Husted’s Decision to Fight Early Voting

Sec. Husted announced he will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court last week’s decision by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a lower federal court ruling reinstating the 3 busiest days of early voting for all Ohioans. The Sixth Circuit held that the State did not have a good reason for taking away voting opportunities from non-military or overseas voters and that doing so was an unconstitutional violation of the guarantee of Equal Protection of the laws.  The Court said the local Boards of Elections may allow all voters to vote during Saturday, November 3, 2012; Sunday, November 4, 2012; and Monday, November 5, 2012.  Husted seeks to have that decision overturned. 

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde released the following statement about Secretary Husted’s decision to appeal:

“How far will Secretary Husted go to deprive Ohioans of the right to vote on equal terms on the final 3 days before the election?  Over 300,000 voters signed the HB 194 referendum petition to protect access during the busiest 3 days of early voting.  Two federal courts have determined that it is unconstitutional to take that access away from most voters.  At least five counties have already set hours for those final 3 days.  Secretary Husted himself has warned of the danger of uncertain rules this close to the election.  Sadly, he is prolonging confusion, uncertainty and harm to Ohio voters.” 

“I hope this latest attempt at voter suppression inspires people even more to claim their right to vote.  Today is the last day to register to vote by showing up in person at your early voting location or by postmarking and mailing your registration form by tonight.  If voters who have moved do not update their existing registration today, they can still vote and update their information on Election Day.” 

Ohio statute requires Boards of Election to offer in-person early voting to provisional voters who have moved or changed their name on Saturday, Nov. 3 until noon and Monday, Nov. 5 during regular business hours.  Hours beyond noon on Saturday and on Sunday are up to the discretion of the Boards of Elections according to existing law and the two recent federal court decisions. 

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House Dems Applaud Federal Court Decision to Uphold Last 3 Days of Early Voting for All

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower federal court ruling to reinstate the 3 busiest days of early voting for all Ohioans. The 6th Circuit held that the State did not have a sufficiently weighty interest for taking away voting opportunities from non-military or overseas voters and that such disparate treatment would be unconstitutional.  Discretion is returned to the local boards of elections to allow all Ohio voters to vote during Saturday, November 3, 2012; Sunday, November 4, 2012; and Monday, November 5, 2012. 

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde released the following statement in response to the ruling:

“This is a huge victory for all Ohio voters. Ohioans should now have access to the polls during the three busiest days of early voting, the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day. Today the Court upheld the notion that the Ohio Republicans violated equal protection of the laws by cutting off the final three days of early voting for some but not all voters. Thank goodness for this ruling which protects the fundamental right to vote on equal terms for all Ohioans on the 3 busiest days.”

State Rep. Michael Stinziano released the following statement in response to the ruling:

“The ruling of the Court of Appeals is a win for the voters of Ohio and I’m pleased that the Court affirmed the ruling of the lower court to restore voting rights to all Ohioans so  they can have every opportunity to cast their ballot when it is convenient for them,  including the last few days before Election Day. Voters deserve easy, open and accessible voting and local Boards of Election need to decide what is best for their county.

“As the former Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, I have seen and experienced firsthand the importance of an efficient early voting period. In 2008, roughly 93,000 voters appeared at their early vote center during the last three days of early voting prior to Election Day. Unfortunately, instead of building on this success and a desire for a smooth election day, there are individuals who prefer the long election lines encountered in 2000 and 2004 and are fighting to limit voting rights instead of expanding them.”

State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) released the following statement in response to the ruling:

“This is a major win for the voters of Ohio. I would hope the early voting hours will be established and announced quickly to cut down on confusion. The entire country is looking at Ohio, and we must get it right.”

Rep. Clyde asks Court to Uphold Last 3 Days of Early Voting for All

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde submitted an amicus brief asking the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the lower federal court ruling that reinstates the 3 busiest days of early voting for all Ohioans. 

“I support the federal court’s ruling to uphold early voting on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day,” Rep. Clyde said of the brief. “Ohioans recognize the partisan, misguided attacks on their fundamental rights, and I urge the appeals court to uphold the three busiest days of early in-person voting for all Ohio voters.”

On August 31, a federal court ruled that Secretary Husted’s directive denying some Ohio voters access to ballots during the three busiest days of early voting was unconstitutional. Secretary Husted appealed the case to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, where the case is currently pending. The lower court rejected Husted’s request to stay its decision pending the appeal, meaning the in-person early vote period is October 2nd through November 5th at this time.

“Rather than permit all qualified voters to cast their ballots, Ohio law reflects a two-tiered system: the majority of Ohio voters are excluded from polling sites on the three days leading up to the election, while military and overseas voters, according to Appellee Secretary of State, may be permitted to cast their ballots through the day before the election,” explained Clyde in the brief. “This system did not emerge as a matter of any intentional, deliberative legislative choice, but rather from an utterly confused series of legislative enactments, repeals and technical corrections and administrative decisions that produced an arbitrary and unjustified distinction among voters in their access to the ballot box.”

The brief was submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in the case Obama for America, et al. v. Jon Husted, et al. (Case nos. 12-4055 & 12-4076).

The group Vote Vets also filed an amicus brief arguing that the denial of in-person voting during the last three days before election day unconstitutionally burdens the rights of more than 900,000 Ohio veterans.  So did the Mahoning County Commissioners.  They argued that there is no rational basis for allowing some voters to vote on the final three days before the election while turning away other voters.  The Commissioners seek to avoid expensive litigation that arose after the unacceptably long voting lines of 2004 – lines that were alleviated in subsequent elections by the use of early voting for all voters. 

Rep. Clyde represents the 68th Ohio House District serving Northern and Southeastern Portage County, including Aurora, Garrettsville, Hiram, Kent, Mantua, Ravenna, Streetsboro, and Windham.

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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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