Voter ID laws have received plenty of attention recently, but they’re not the only controversial changes to election rules this year. Some states have made changes that critics say could impact individuals’ ability to vote. Here are four. Ohio won’t count provisional ballots mistakenly cast in the wrong precinct. Four years ago in Ohio, there were 200,000 provisional ballots cast among a total 5.7 million votes. This was the most among any state other than California. (Federal law requires states to use provisional ballotswhen a voter’s eligibility is in question or if their registration doesn’t reflect a new name or address.) But Ohio requires county election boards to reject provisional ballots if the ballot doesn’t correspond to the voter’s assigned precinct — even if it was the poll worker’s mistake. (A few other states have similar rules, but Ohio is fighting a lawsuit right now to preserve its approach.)
Such errors are bound to happen since 80 percent of Ohio’s polling stations cover multiple precincts. In 2008, Ohio elections officialsdiscarded 14,000 provisional ballots for this very reason. That number accounted for one-third of the total rejected provisional ballots that year. In June, a group of labor organizations and advocacy groups sued Ohio to block enforcement of this requirement, arguing it could disenfranchise thousands of voters. Ohio officials have argued the law is justified by the state’s interest in “running elections fairly and efficiently.” “The argument is sometimes made that if states are required to count these ballots, more people would deliberately go and vote in the wrong precinct,” said Wendy R. Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice.