The problems that Ohio elections officials have with provisional ballots got worse in 2011. An Enquirer analysis of provisional voting across Ohio and in Southwest Ohio shows that more provisional ballots were cast statewide and in the region in the 2011 election than in 2009, the last “off year” election. Yet a smaller proportion of provisional ballots was counted, the analysis shows. Butler, Hamilton and Warren counties bucked that trend. The analysis shows lackluster results from efforts to curb provisional voting. It also raises questions as Ohio heads toward a presidential election where it may hold crucial electoral votes – and where the outcome is expected to be tight. That’s because provisional ballots, handed out when there’s a question about whether a voter is eligible or qualified, sometimes cause controversy in close races.
A 2010 race for Hamilton County juvenile court judge has been unresolved for 15 months over the issue of provisional ballots cast in that race. The Enquirer analysis shows that in the 15 Ohio counties casting the most votes in 2011, a smaller proportion of provisionals was counted in nine of them, including Clermont.
Butler and Warren counties were among the six showing improvement, the analysis shows. So was Hamilton – the only one of the state’s five most populous counties where more provisionals were counted last year. That’s significant because provisional voting tends to be most prevalent in urban counties.