Last week, the GOP-led House passed an election law overhaul without the highly restrictive voter ID provision. However, the House tweaked the bill to weaken a law mandating poll workers to direct voters in the wrong precinct to their correct voting location. Under the new language, a poll worker need not direct a voter to where they are eligible, adding that “it is the duty of the individual casting the ballot to ensure that the individual is casting that ballot in the correct precinct.”
Allowing poll workers to refuse to help those who are legitimately confused about where they should vote opens the door for increased voter suppression. As state Sen. Nina Turner (D) pointed out, “Voting in the wrong precinct led to over 14,000 registered voters statewide to lose their vote in 2008.” Rating the statement “true,” Politifact reports:
[T]he second most common reason the ballot was not counted was because while the person was properly registered to vote in Ohio, they cast the ballot in the wrong county or precinct. In all, 14,335 such ballots were not counted for this reason, according to the Brunner report.
Of those 14,000-plus ballots, 3,423 were cast in Cuyahoga County, home to Turner’s district and by far the county with the most uncounted provisional ballots during the November 2008 elections due to wrong place filings.
As the Cleveland Plain Dealer pointed out, mixing up precincts “most often occurs” in “urban and impoverished areas of the state,” leading Turner to sarcastically suggest of Republicans, “I guess the loss of votes for some doesn’t matter.” The bill now heads to Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) for signature.