For the presidential election, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has placed new restrictions on how local boards of elections can notify voters if their absentee ballot contains an error. Husted, a Republican, issued a directive Oct. 4 that limits the method of communication to first-class mail when a voter’s absentee ballot identification envelope contains errors, such as a missing name or signature, or if the information on the envelope does not match voter registration records. Election officials cannot notify voters by email or phone, even though voters may provide that information when applying for an absentee ballot, the directive said. Husted’s office says the directive was issued to ensure uniformity across the state. But Democrats say the directive is another example of Husted making it more difficult to vote. Earlier this week, Husted appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court an appellate court decision that allows in-person early voting the weekend before the Nov. 6 election.
State Rep. Kathleen Clyde, a Democrat from Kent, said Husted should allow boards to notify voters by email and phone if possible. “It’s totally ridiculous not to help voters ensure that their votes should be counted,” Clyde said. “We should be using every possibility that we have to contact voters to correct these innocent mistakes.” Once notified, the voter must appear in person at the board of elections to fix any error. Ballots with uncorrected errors will not be counted.