Ohio State Reps. Debbie Phillips, D- Albany, and Kathleen Clyde, D- Kent, are working to expose the state’s “broken” provisional ballot process, the two stated in a news release on Wednesday. They said they believe the state’s high number of rejected provisional ballots could be affecting two Ohio House of Representatives races, which are now heading to a recount. According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office website, “A provisional ballot is used to record a vote if a voter’s eligibility is in question and the voter would otherwise not be permitted to vote at his or her polling place.” Such scenarios for this include a recent change in address, not providing identification at the polls, or your signature not matching the one on your voter registration.
In a phone interview with Phillips on Wednesday, she said that the races in the 7th and 98th Districts were too close to call before the provisional ballots were counted this week. However, with many of the provisional ballots being rejected, there’s some concern that the outcome of the races could have been inaccurate.
In the 7th House District, incumbent Republican Mike Dovilla was leading Democratic challenger Matt Patton by 305 votes before the provisional ballots were counted on Tuesday. There were over 2,000 provisional ballots cast in the district, which covers Cuyahoga County.
In the 98th District, Republican incumbent Al Landis had a 270 vote lead over Democrat Josh O’Farrell. There were about 2,000 provisionals in that district as well, which covers Tuscarawas County and portions of Holmes County.
According to the news release from Phillips and Clyde, Ohio ranked third in the number of provisional ballots cast in 2008, with over 200,000, with a similar number in 2012. The release said that in 2008, one in five provisional ballots were rejected. “This means hundreds of thousands of Ohioans’ votes hang in limbo and face extra scrutiny before they can be counted. Tens of thousands of them are eventually rejected,” the news release stated.