Rep. Clyde Urges Secretary Husted To Take Immediate Action To Count Votes
Seeks uniform lawful instruction to counties to ensure counting of valid votes
November 10, 2015
 
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State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D- Kent) sent a letter today urging Secretary Husted to take immediate action in order to comply with state and federal law in counting votes from the 2015 general election.


“I urge Secretary Husted to ensure all valid votes from this election are counted in accordance with state and federal law,” said Clyde. “Over 103,000 general election ballots have been thrown out over the last 4 years, many unlawfully. When so many elections come down to 1vote, the integrity of Ohio’s election outcomes is at stake. More importantly, the dignity of Ohio voters is harmed when their votes are carelessly rejected.”


Rep. Clyde specifically asked in her letter that six types of ballots be counted:



  1. Provisional ballots cast at a former precinct polling location by a voter who moved.

  2. Provisional ballots cast in the wrong polling place due to poll worker error.

  3. Provisional and absentee ballots with or without a birthdate on the paperwork.

  4. Absentee ballots that are dropped off at the polls by voters and accepted by poll workers.

  5. Absentee ballots where Stub A has been accidentally removed by the voter.

  6. Double-bubble votes where an oval is selected and the vote is also written in.


See the letter below.


November 10, 2015


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


Dear Secretary Husted,


I write to urge you to instruct counties to count voters’ ballots in this election in accordance with federal and state laws. Too many voters’ ballots are unlawfully thrown out each election. Over 103,000 general election ballots have been thrown out since you took office.


Throwing out voters’ ballots denies them their voice in our democracy and harms the integrity of elections, many of which are decided by one vote as your office has noted. Changes in recent years to Ohio law on vote-counting has caused more and more ballots to be wrongfully thrown out. You have a chance to correct this by instructing counties to count votes uniformly and lawfully.


The following types of ballots will be unlawfully rejected unless you act:



  1. Provisional ballots cast at a former precinct by a voter who moved.

  2. Provisional ballots cast in the wrong polling place due to poll worker error.

  3. Provisional and absentee ballots with or without a birthdate on the paperwork.

  4. Absentee ballots that are dropped off at the polls by voters and accepted by poll workers.

  5. Absentee ballots where the perforated stub has been accidentally removed by the voter.

  6. Double-bubble votes where an oval is selected and the vote is also written in.


  1. Provisional Ballots Cast in a Former Precinct


The National Voter Registration Act requires ballots cast in a voter’s former precinct to be counted if the voter also completes a change of address form. However, Directive 2014-20 requires these to be thrown out. The federal Motor Voter law gives the voter the option of voting at the voter’s former precinct and updating the voter’s address if the voter has moved within the county and congressional district. See 52 USC 20507(e)(2).



  1. Provisional Ballots Cast in the Wrong Polling Place due to Poll Worker Error


Directive 2014-20requires that ballots cast in the wrong precinct and wrong polling place, even due to poll worker error, be thrown out. Meanwhile, ballots cast in the wrong precinct but correct polling location may be counted where there is evidence of poll worker error. Your instructions set up non-uniform treatment of wrong precinct ballots. Any ballot cast in the wrong precinct where there is evidence of poll worker error should be counted or Ohio will be in violation of the Bush v. Gore standard for counting ballots uniformly.



  1. Provisional and Absentee Ballots without Birthdate


Directives 2014-20 and 2014-18 permit counties to make up their own non-uniform rules for counting provisional and absentee ballots. This will lead to some counties counting ballots without an unnecessary birthdate on the paperwork and other counties rejecting such ballots. Counties need uniform instruction on how to count votes under one statewide standard. All ballots without a birthdate should count in every county, not just some, to avoid a Bush v. Gore equal protection problem in Ohio.



  1. Absentee Ballots Dropped Off at Polls


Absentee ballots that are dropped off at polling locations should be counted. Ohio law states that absentee ballots must be returned to the director of the board of elections. R.C. 3509.05. When a voter drops off her absentee ballot at the board of elections, she is not required to hand it directly to the director of the board. She hands it to the election official on duty at the board. Poll workers are also election officials that work for the director. There is no valid reason or requirement in the law to reject these ballots.



  1. Absentee Ballots without Perforated Stub


Board staff are correctly permitted by your directives to seal absentee ballot envelopes for voters and, following that same logic, board staff should also be able to accept and count absentee ballots that are missing a perforated stub. Ballots cast in person on Election Day in some counties are required to have the perforated stub removed before they are cast. But, confusingly, ballots cast by mail have to have it attached. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires that ballots be counted despite harmless paperwork problems.



  1. Double-bubble Votes


Double-bubble votes, those where a voter both marks an oval for a candidate and also writes in the same candidate’s name must be counted under Ohio law. R.C. 3505.28 clearly requires that “no ballot shall be rejected for any technical error unless it is impossible to determine the voter's choice.” In 2008, over 12,000 double-bubble votes were counted under the law.


Secretary Husted, please act to ensure that all Ohioans’ ballots are lawfully counted. Such action will ensure the dignity of Ohio voters and the integrity of our election outcomes. One vote has made the difference in 70 elections in recent years. Counting every vote is the right thing to do and has a real impact. Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Respectfully,


Kathleen Clyde
State Representative

 
 
 
  
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