Posts Tagged 'voting rights'

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. Tracy Maxwell Heard Urges Voting Assistance for Ohio’s Emergency Responders to Superstorm Sandy

State Representative Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-Columbus) has been in contact with staffers of Ohio Governor John R. Kasich and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s offices, after discovering that emergency responders from Ohio may not be able to vote in this year’s general election as a result of their participation in emergency response and clean-up activities related to Hurricane Sandy’s devastation of the eastern seaboard.

“After scrambling to figure out if we could do anything for these first responders, I read that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is allowing displaced residents to vote electronically via e-mail or fax. A New Jersey elections official promised to conduct his county’s election come hell or high water – well, hell and high water are here, and the brave men and women of Ohio have stepped forward to bail out the East Coast,” said Rep. Heard. “We, back home in Ohio, have to ensure that their sacrifice does not cost them their vote.”

Many of the first responders have not voted early, anticipating that they would be able to participate in early voting or traditional Election Day voting this year. When Hurricane Sandy hit on October 29, these men and women headed to the impacted areas. The nature of the clean up will most likely keep first responders out of the state until after November 6.

Rep. Heard is hopeful that Gov. Kasich and Secretary Husted will be able to work with her to accommodate the precarious situation that some voting Ohioans face due to this natural disaster.

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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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.”

State Rep. Alicia Reece Applauds Removal of Voter Intimidation Billboards

State Representative Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) applauded the agreement between Norton Outdoor Advertising and the anonymous family foundation responsible for the “VOTER FRAUD” ad campaign in Ohio to remove voter intimidation billboards in the Cincinnati area.

Representative Reece held a press conference last week with area clergy and community leaders demanding the billboards be removed in Cincinnati and across Ohio. Clear Channel announced they would begin removing the billboards in Cleveland and Columbus on Saturday. Yesterday, Rep. Reece asked Norton Outdoor Advertising for their help getting the signs removed in Cincinnati as well.

“I commend Norton Outdoor Advertising for doing the right thing today by removing these billboards,” said Rep. Reece who lives in one of the neighborhoods where the billboards were placed.

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Ohio House Democrats Praise U.S. Supreme Court Decision on Final 3 Days of Early Voting

COLUMBUS – The U.S. Supreme Court refused to overturn lower court rulings reinstating the final 3 days of early voting.  Last week, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal district court order to reinstate 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 unconstitutional.  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.  Secretary Husted tried to appeal the Sixth Circuit’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court which today refused to take up the appeal. 

In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of his appeal, the Secretary of State issued a directive ordering Boards to have early voting Saturday, Nov. 3 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 4 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 5 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Rep. Clyde released the following statement:

“I am very pleased that Ohio voters will again be able to vote on the final 3 days before the election as they were able to in 2008.  Despite Secretary Husted’s repeated attempts to block voting on these three important days, the United States Supreme Court sided with Ohio voters today.  With this important decision, we finally have certainty about what the early voting hours are.  We must now shift our focus to educating voters about the early voting schedule and what their rights are at the polls.”

Rep. Stinziano released the following statement:

“I applaud The Supreme Court’s decision rejecting Secretary of State Husted’s appeal involving the restriction of early in-person voting hours during the final three days before Election Day.

“This ruling is a win for all of the voters of Ohio and I’m pleased that the Court affirmed the ruling to restore the franchise of voting rights during the last few days of early voting. Ohioans will continue to have every opportunity to cast their ballot when it is convenient for them, including the last few days before Election Day, when unplanned conflicts can arise and where past elections have shown a demand.

“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 including these last few days.  In 2008, roughly 93,000 voters appeared at their early vote center during the last three days of early voting prior to Election Day.  Today’s ruling provides for an even smoother Election Day and affirms the votes of the many boards of elections who felt weekend hours were needed for proper election administration. All Ohioans should truly be pleased.”

Rep. Reece issued the following statement:

“It is unfortunate that we had to depend on the federal court to do what the State refused to do.  This is a major win for the voters of Ohio. The court decision could impact almost 93,000 Ohioans who took advantage of voting during those days in 2008. I am glad the matter has finally been put to rest in favor of Ohio voters and confusion over the issue has ended with the last 3 days reinstated.”

State Rep. Sandra Williams released the following statement:

“I applaud the US Supreme Court’s decision rejecting Husted’s appeal to eliminate the last three days of early in-person voting.  Upholding the decision of the lower courts only reaffirms that Husted’s previous directive was unconstitutional. 

“I am pleased that all Ohioans will have full access to the polls.  The last three days allows for greater flexibility and increased opportunities for citizens to cast their ballots.  While this is a big win for the people of Ohio, I want to encourage everyone to continue taking advantage of the in-person early voting hours.  Don’t wait for the last three days if you don’t have to.”

Rep. Teresa Fedor issued the following statement:

“This decision should reassure Ohio’s voters that the courts are not interested in helping state Republicans with their voter suppression agenda.  The highest court in the land has upheld early voting on the final 3 days before the election which will help us have a smooth election in which every voter’s voice is heard.  With this decision, veteran voters, elderly voters, student voters, minority voters, all voters will be welcomed back to the polls on the final 3 days before the election.”

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