This election, the issue of voter disenfranchisement was front and center in several key states across the country. One of the most-controversial moves in the case of voter suppression and the potential robbery of democracy occurred in the battleground state of Ohio. Republican Secretary Of State Jon Husted’s (pictured) decision to change the rules just days before the election was “a flagrant violation of a state elections law,” wrote U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley on Tuesday.
On November 2, Husted issued a directive to local election officials to reject certain provisional ballots from voters who didn’t follow explicit instructions of identification on the ballot application.
Judge Marbley ruled that Husted violated a state law that instructs poll workers to fill out the ballot application; the directive would have put the onus on the voter to fill out the form. Husted also violated a federal court agreement that would protect provisional ballots from rejection due to poll worker error.
Husted plans to file an appeal, saying via a spokesperson to the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the ruling “allows potentially fraudulent votes to be counted. By eliminating the ID requirement on provisional ballots, the ruling is contrary to Ohio law and undermines the integrity of the election.”
SEIU and its partners from civil rights group Advancement Project filed the case against Husted, resulting in the scorching 17-page ruling written by Judge Marbley. Advancement Project Co-Director Penda D. Hair issued a brief statement regarding the Ohio matter.
(See the entire ruling by here.)
“We agree with Judge Marbley in his view that the 11th-hour actions of Ohio’s Secretary of State were harmful to Ohio voters,” said Hair. “Measures must be taken to reduce the number of provisional ballots. And clearly, provisional ballots must be counted in this and future elections, so that Ohio citizens are not continuously subject to violations of their fundamental voting rights.”