Voting machines in Miami County have “a myriad of problems,” are near the end of their life and there are no guarantees that issues with them won’t occur during the March primary election, according to a county employee who has worked years with the equipment. Concerns about the voting machines come almost two months after the elections’ office voter registration system started developing problems just before Christmas. Phil Mote a seasonal employee who heads up the logic and accuracy testing of each voting machine, said despite his concerns, the machines are ready to go for the March 15 primary election. Early in-person voting begins Wednesday. “I feel confident we are going to put on a good election,” he said.
Articles about voting issues in Ohio.
Ohio is on sound constitutional ground in placing judicial candidates on general election ballots without party labels, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday. The ruling from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati dealt a blow to the Ohio Democratic Party and labor organizations that sought to do away with the state’s system of having judicial candidates run with their party affiliation in the primary election, but without it in the general election. “While the plaintiffs argue that Ohio’s electoral system burdens their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, the burden is minimal and is outweighed by Ohio’s interest in minimizing partisanship in judicial elections,” wrote Judge John M. Rogers on behalf of a panel of two judges appointed by Republican presidents and one Democratic appointee.
Nearly 12 percent of absentee and provisional ballots rejected by Ohio elections boards in 2014 and 2015 general elections were bounced for technical issues, according to documents filed in federal court Thursday. Those technical issues — names that don’t exactly match voter records, missing or incorrect dates of birth, improper voter ID or conflicts in voters’ addresses — are the target of a lawsuit. The suit claims that state rules enacted in 2014 violate constitutional rights and disproportionately hurt African-American, Latino and poor voters. In addition to identifying 4,105 ballots disqualified for technical errors, data collected by the plaintiffs show that the rate of disqualification varies widely from county to county. In the 10 largest counties, that rate was as low as 1 percent and as high as 24.8 percent. Unless the boards of elections are able to contact a voter to get a ballot corrected, the voter’s ballot may not be counted and the voter may never know.
For nearly two years, election officials in Northeast Ohio have known that the state’s failure to keep pace with modernization at the U.S. Post Office could result in absentee ballots getting tossed, even if voters followed the rules perfectly. Beacon Journal interviews last week revealed that officials in at least Summit, Stark and Portage counties were aware in 2014 that a problem loomed as the U.S. Postal Service increasingly used bar codes to process mail and did not print the time and date across the postage stamp. State law continues to require an old-fashioned postmark, and as a result last year, nearly 1,800 absentee ballots were rejected in Summit and Cuyahoga counties alone. Now, with Ohioans only weeks away from voting in a highly charged presidential primary — and their governor among the contenders — the issue remains unresolved and there is no guarantee that ballots dropped in the mailbox will get counted.
Ohio: Christian group, tea party activists urge delay in online voter registration | The Columbus Dispatch
If Ohio is going to implement online voter registration, it should be delayed until after the presidential election, the leader of a coalition that includes a religious group and tea party activists told lawmakers Tuesday. The website could be hacked, and thus it’s a poor decision to try to implement online voter registration during a high-volume, high-stakes presidential election, Christopher Long, president of the Ohio Christian Alliance, told a House committee. But lawmakers in both parties pushed back against his concerns. Rep. Louis “Bill” Blessing, R-Cincinnati, questioned if any other states have encountered security issues with their online systems.
Ohio: Cuyahoga County elections officials find 250 ballots should have counted as plan to fix broken voting system stalls | Akron Beacon Journal
Elections officials in Cuyahoga County have discovered that 250 invalidated votes should have counted in Ohio’s last statewide election. But the discovery, which other counties can duplicate for about $500, will not change how Ohio runs the upcoming presidential election without action from state leaders. In a post-election analysis, Sean Webster of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections reviewed roughly 1,500 absentee ballots that arrived after the polls closed on Nov. 2. About 900 lacked postmarks, which would clearly state when the ballots were mailed. Another 563 were postmarked too late. All were tossed out. Statewide, about half of 7,244 late-arriving ballots lacked postmarks. “Proportionally,” Webster said of the same issue in Summit County, “we had significantly fewer ballots that needed thrown out. And we think that’s because we use a smaller envelope.”
With presidential primary elections two months away, the U.S. Postal Service has yet to explain why nearly 9 percent of Summit County mail-in ballots were missing postmarks and had to be thrown out. And no one has come up with a solution for the future. The unusually high number of botched ballots led the Summit Board of Elections to subpoena postmasters to a hearing last month. While postal officials skipped the hearing, Ohio Secretary of State John Husted’s office has since taken up the issue statewide. During the last presidential election in 2012, more than one-third of Ohio voters mailed their ballots.
Ohio: Husted says he’s intent on finding fix to absentee-ballot postmark issues | The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said he isn’t sure the U.S. Postal Service has a solution to the postmark issues that plagued absentee ballots during last year’s general election. Speaking at the Ohio Association of Election Officials Convention at the Hilton Downtown Columbus on Wednesday, he said it was partially up to election workers to figure out a solution to the problem. “We don’t need to look at blame. We need to look at a way forward,” Husted said. Ohio voter law allows absentee ballots to be counted if their postmark date falls before Election Day, even if the ballots don’t arrive until after. In November, 1,523 ballots were not counted because the U.S. Post Office did not postmark them. “My priority is to ensure voters who follow the law that their votes will be counted,” said Husted, a Republican.
After years of inaction, lawmakers are getting closer to having Ohio join most other states in allowing people to register to vote online, saving government money. “Online registration can boost participation while improving efficiency, ensuring accuracy and preventing fraud at the same time. It’s a classic win-win,” Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Copley, told a House committee on Tuesday. The bill, which the Senate passed 31-1 in June, expands the current system that allows voters to update their home addresses online — a system that Ohioans have used 295,000 times since August 2012. Secretary of State Jon Husted has argued for years that online voter registration would be more secure, convenient and accurate in addition to being less expensive than current paper registrations. The bill is backed by county elections officials, county commissioners and veterans groups.
While there’s still no solution for what happened in November, when 861 voters were silenced after the post office failed to postmark absentee ballots, county elections officials are looking to a relatively tiny race in Norton to ensure they play no part in future screw-ups.
Summit County Board of Elections officials have devised a plan to determine, as quickly as possible, if votes are misplaced between the poll workers who collect them and the staff who count them. The plan, to be tested in Norton on Tuesday, involves comparing the number of ballots sent to each polling location with the number that return as either voted, voided or set aside as provisional ballots, which are counted after workers check voter eligibility.