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Dems Respond to LaRose Refusal to Count Provisional Ballots

Election Working Group blasts late Friday night directive
May 4, 2020
Democratic Newsroom

COLUMBUS— State Representatives Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo), Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown), and Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) released the below statements in response to Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s late night directive on Friday ordering counties to throw out many of the provisional ballots cast in the primary election.

Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson:

“This is an insult to the voters of Ohio. Mass confusion reigned in this primary election, in part because of Secretary LaRose’s own actions in publicizing a false new election date. As a result, many people cast provisional ballots last Tuesday. The secretary refused to say how these ballots would be handled before the election and immediately after voting ended. He finally came out late on a Friday night to order counties to throw out votes. We do not change election rules in the middle of the game. There is no excuse for this manner of conducting elections, and he should reverse course and count the votes.”

Rep Michele Lepore-Hagan:

“The Secretary’s pre-election directive said that voters who appeared in person were to be given a provisional ballot. He said nothing about that ballot not counting. What a dirty trick to play on Ohio voters. These ballots should be counted as state and federal law require. Voters’ most fundamental right is at stake here.”

Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney:

“I am beyond disappointed that Ohio’s chief elections officer is ordering counties not to count votes and, to make matters worse, this order was withheld until after the voting was finally over. This is no way to run things and this is another blow to voters’ confidence in our elections. After the botched voter purge and now this, we have a lot of ground to make up with voters as we make plans to carry out the general election in this continuing crisis. Our team will continue working toward the best policies to protect voters from the virus and ensure access to their vote.”

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. Rep. Hicks-Hudson sent a letter before voting ended and the working group sent a letter after voting ended demanding these ballots count.

There are 44,368 outstanding provisional ballots, the majority from counties containing Ohio’s urban areas. Franklin County had the highest rate of provisional voting and highest number of provisional ballots cast at 6,807. Cuyahoga County saw 6,206 provisional ballots cast. Breakdowns by party and by whether the individuals attempted to vote my mail are not yet available.