Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) became the public face of vote suppression this year for his overreaching election directives, which restricted early voting hours and forbid election officials from counting legitimate votes. Though President Obama won the state, Husted has not halted his efforts. With two House races heading to a recount, Husted is now facing accusations that he is illegally tossing provisional ballots. These House races will determine whether state Republicans get a super-majority to put constitutional amendments on the ballot without a single Democratic vote.
State representatives Kathleen Clyde (D-OH) and Debbie Phillips (D-OH) threatened to sue Wednesday evening over at least 384 ballots that have been discarded in the two districts in question, Tuscarawas and Cuyahoga. According to the state reps, some ballots were put in plain manila envelopes instead of provisional ballot envelopes, rendering them invalid. Additionally, they say Husted is rejecting ballots covered under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which allows voters who have moved to a different address within the same congressional district to vote at their former precinct.
Even more ballots are likely to have been wrongly discarded because officials are using a database already proven to be flawed and incomplete to determine the voter’s registration status.
Besides these possible breaches of federal election law, Husted is also tossing innumerable ballots that were thrown into question by poll worker error through no fault of the voter. A federal judge tried to stop him, declaring “I don’t want to see democracy die in the darkness on my watch.” But the conservative Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay that allowed Husted to throw out these votes.
Ohio leads the country in provisional ballots, with 200,000 cast this year. In 2008, the state discarded 1 out of every 5 provisional votes. These ballots are often concentrated in urban, Democratic areas — and huge percentages get discarded every election.