Ohio’s Provisional-Ballot Rule Unfair, Federal Judge Says
By Margaret Cronin Fisk - Nov 14, 2012
The Ohio secretary of state’s new rule on counting provisional ballots risked denying citizens’ rights to vote and ignored state law, a federal judge said.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, issued a directive to county election officials on Nov. 2 requiring the rejection of a provisional ballot if the voter failed to record the type of identification used when casting the vote.
A labor union and a homeless advocates’ coalition asked U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley in Columbus, Ohio, to stop authorities from rejecting such ballots, citing an Ohio law that requires poll workers, not voters, to record the information. Marbley found the rule “violates substantive due process,” and ordered the ballots counted where voters didn’t provide the type of identification.
“For an executive official of the state to flout state law in arbitrarily reassigning a poll worker’s statutory duty to a voter, with the result being the disenfranchisement of the voter, is fundamentally unfair and constitutionally impermissible,” Marbley said yesterday in a 17-page ruling. The rule “imposes an impermissible burden,” he said.