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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Four Ways Ohio And Others Have Toughened Voting Rules

Four Ways Ohio And Others Have Toughened Voting Rules

by Suevon Lee, ProPublica

Voter ID laws have received plenty of attention recently, but they’re not the only controversial changes to election rules this year. Some states have made changes that critics say could impact individuals’ ability to vote. Here are four.

Ohio won’t count provisional ballots mistakenly cast in the wrong precinct.

Four years ago in Ohio, there were 200,000 provisional ballots cast among a total 5.7 million votes. This was the most of any state other than California. (Federal law requires states to use provisional ballots when a voter’s eligibility is in question or if their registration doesn’t reflect a new name or address.)

But Ohio requires county election boards to reject provisional ballots if the ballot doesn’t correspond to the voter’s assigned precinct—even if it was the poll worker’s mistake. A few other states have similar rules, but Ohio is fighting a lawsuit right now to preserve its approach.

Such errors are bound to happen since 80 percent of Ohio’s polling stations cover multiple precincts. In 2008, Ohio elections officials discarded 14,000 provisional ballots for this very reason. That number accounted for one third of the total rejected provisional ballots that year.

In June, a group of labor organizations and advocacy groups sued Ohio to block enforcement of this requirement, arguing it could disenfranchise thousands of voters.

Ohio officials have argued the law is justified by the state’s interest in “running elections fairly and efficiently.”

“The argument is sometimes made that if states are required to count these ballots, more people would deliberately go and vote in the wrong precinct,” said Wendy R. Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice.

During oral arguments before a federal judge earlier this year, a lawyer for Ohio hinted at such a scenario when he challenged the strength of the plaintiffs’ evidence. “Something else is going on that may not be poll-worker error,” he said, as noted in a footnote to the judge’s ruling.

In August, a federal judge ruled against Ohio’s approach. The state’s interest in fair and efficient elections, wrote U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley for the Southern District of Ohio, “falls short of what is required to justify its inevitable disenfranchisement of thousands of qualified voters in the November 2012 election.”

Ohio has appealed the decision, arguing that the rule helps with “counting only valid, legal ballots, in running a smooth election, and in minimizing post-election litigation.” Allowing such provisional ballots to count, the state further argued, would make it “more difficult for elections officials to monitor and keep up with the voting process.”

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case early last week and is expected to issue a decision soon.

Ohio tried to shorten its early voting period—until a federal court ruled otherwise.

Ohio used to permit in-person early voting for registered voters in the three days prior to Election Day. (More than 30 other states have similar early voting options, mostly for those who can’t make it on Election Day.) But last year, the Ohio General Assembly limited the window. Early voting, which began Oct. 2, was scheduled to end at 6 p.m. the Friday before Election Day. Members of the military and overseas voters were exempt from the narrowed time frame.

Democrats have been proponents of early voting: An estimated 93,000 Ohioans voted early in 2008. A subsequent University of Akron study concluded that early voters were “more likely to be strong Democrats than election-day voters”—including women, older voters and lower-income individuals.

In defending the law, Ohio elections officials argued that administering early voting the weekend before Election Day for all registered voters would interfere with counties’ Election Day preparation, and that military voters have a unique need for being exempt.

In July, Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and the Ohio Democratic Party asked a federal court to block the new rule, arguing that “tens of thousands of citizens who would have otherwise exercised their right to vote during this time period, including Plaintiffs’ members and supporters, may not be able to participate in future elections at all.”

In August, U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus in Ohio agreed to block the law, writing that creating two separate early voting deadlines would place more value on one person’s vote over another’s. On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed this decision. County elections officials, as in 2008, will still have discretion over whether to open up early voting to all.

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  • Don’t be surprised if the next step is voter intimidation.

    • lana ward

      Voter intimidation like the black panthers?

      • No, like the rabid white Tea Baggers.

        • lana ward

          I’ll bet The Tea Party ALL have valid ID’s

          • If anyone feels intimidated by someone – call the police. Do not let anyone stop you from excersing your right.

            “I’ll bet The Tea Party ALL have valid ID’s” Hope you are not betting the ranch on that, because you might loose.

          • lana ward

            IThe black panthers are planning on showing up again because Eric Holder let them get away with intimadating voters last time

          • ralphkr

            I don’t need any steenking state ID to vote because I am white and have my NRA membership card.

    • grammyjill

      true the vote is already at it. I guess I’m lucky. Here none of them can get any closer than 100 feet and they are not allowed to say a word other than have a nice day. That law was put in when Clinton was running.

  • This on-going voting saga needs to be fixed. Drivers licenses are State Jurisdiction, WHY aren’t voting in Federal elections, Federal jurisdiction”? Look up Article 5 in the Constitution. It defines how Amendments are added. It’s never been done. The States can add Amendments without Congress having anything to do with it. Congress Term limits, National Voter registration standards, no donation of any kind to any fund or account having anything to do with the election process in this Nation from any Union or Corporation. It’s only a start, we have to start somewhere. It’s our country, not theirs.

  • darkagesbegin

    maybe I am just being paranoid, but I fear that if R/R win, it might be the last time America will be able to freely cast ballots…and already this election is tainted by big outside money. I mean, when a billionaire in Kansas has more say in who my next congressman is than I do, something is seriously wrong.

    • SaneJane

      Not just billionaires in Kansas, there is a lot of money pouring into Romney’s coffers from outside the country.

      • lana ward

        Obama has gotten tons of money from outside the country. he is being investigated, they think he got it illegally

        • Well they know for sure that the Republicans just accepted a million dollar donation from a Canadian Insurance Company which is illegal and that law was upheld when corporations became people according to the Supreme Court. How come you are the only one that seems to know about President Obama being investigated. for accepting out of the country donations?

          • grammyjill

            could be because he didn’t except in some republicans warped mind. romney on the other hand, that’s a different story.

          • lana ward

            I got my information from the site–PAT DOLLARD– they are reporting MANY things about Obama, I’m sure the media will catch up soon- they’ll have no choice

        • 13observer

          More than likely from the “Muslim Brotherhood”!

          • That mentality is so sick retarded!

          • 13observer

            Whatever you say PROFESSOR! Did I mention that we just love hearing from you…………………………… next.

        • grammyjill

          can you TRY to not be soooo wrong every time you’re here.

        • Obama’s fund came from grass roots fundraising from the other half of Americans thats not brainwashed.

    • lana ward

      Obama has just as many or more billionaire doners as Romney, but he spent most of that on lying, hatefull ads against Romney

      • Your candidate is the one that has spent millions in hateful ads lying in all of the them about the President and Democrats Matter of fact Romney has been putting out lying hateful ads since before the Republican primaries. You need to research your candidate and you will find that most of the ads against him are the truth.

    • Akins and several republicans want to repeal the 17th admendment. Know what that is? Our right to vote for our senators.

  • William Deutschlander

    Just one more example of REPUBLICAN CARTEL voter suppresion, intimidation and fraud!

  • William Deutschlander

    When you can see ALL of the deceitful actions of the REPUBLICAN CARTEL to suppress, intimidate and restrict the RIGHT TO VOTE, how the hell could you ever register or support such a CORRUPT and EVIL entity?

  • old_blu

    Sounds like they are holding the federal Government hostage until they get their way, or maybe like we either play by my rules or I take my ball and go home.

  • Why would repeated election delays, shifting deadlines and uncertainty all caused by ongoing redistricting litigation be a valid reason to delay the process?

    Sounds like a partisan decision, rather than a logistical one.

  • tailolu

    Instead to encourage fellow citizen to take part on the election process, Republican party officials in charge of election fight to the nail to reduce citizen participation. We go around the world spreading the so called democracy, but we do not allowed our fellow citizen to vote. If it possible to go back to times, Republican will turn the clock back that if citizen do not own a property they should not be allow to vote. This is crazy.

  • onedonewong

    Yep as the Dem’s register hundreds of thousands to vote by going thru cemeteries