State Representatives Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo), Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown), and Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) sent a letter to Secretary of State Frank LaRose today demanding that provisional ballots cast on Tuesday, April 28 be counted. Mail delays and confusion around the primary changes left some Ohio voters without a vote-by-mail ballot and no choice but to vote a provisional ballot in person on Tuesday. The three members make up the House Democratic Caucus’ COVID-19 Elections Working Group.
See the letter below:
April 30, 2020
Dear Secretary LaRose,
We write today again to ask that you provide guidance to the county Boards of Elections on how they are to count provisional ballots cast on April 28. You publicly stated that it’s up to the counties whether to count ballots. As a result, some counties appear to be poised to reject provisional ballots while other counties will count them. That would be a violation of state and federal law and the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is not the prerogative of individual counties to reject provisional ballots. It is the job of the state’s chief elections official to properly direct the boards.
Reports from the last day of voting on Tuesday, April 28 indicate that some voters were turned away and not permitted to at least vote a provisional ballot, even though they were legally entitled to do so under state and federal law and your own directive. Others were told their ballot would not or may not count. We attempted to get clarification from your office before Tuesday because we expected confusion and conflicting practices among counties and that’s exactly what happened. The poster you ordered boards to display at their voting sites was confusing, did not match your directive, and discouraged people from voting.
Secretary Larose, the law is clear in the state of Ohio. Provisional ballots are to be counted so long as the individual was registered to vote, was eligible to vote in the location where they voted, and provided the required information on the ballot envelope. House Bill 197 did not alter or affect the eligibility of Ohioans to vote and have their vote counted. Please take quick action to clear up any confusion before any voter is possibly disenfranchised in this primary election. Please tell the boards to count the votes.
Paula Hicks-Hudson, State Representative, District 44, Chair, House Democratic Caucus COVID-19 Elections Working Group
Michele Lepore-Hagan. State Representative, District 58
Bride Rose Sweeney, State Representative, District 14