Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted on Friday appealed a federal judge’s ruling that Ohio must count provisional votes cast in the wrong location due to poll worker error so long as they are cast in the correct county. That “vote anywhere” approach, Husted argues, could be burdensome to poll workers and potentially create chaos at polling places throughout the state, viewed as a pivotal battleground between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
The Cincinnati-based U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to decide next week on the appeal by Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine so the revised provisional procedures can be in place before Nov. 6. U.S. District Court Judge Algenon Marbley this week ordered Ohio to count ballots cast in the wrong location because of poll workers’ mistakes, broadening an August ruling that validated votes cast in the wrong precinct but at the right location. That can happen because multiple precincts vote at the same polling place in some cities.
In his 22-page decision, Marbley said he saw “no logical or legal rationale to distinguish” between “right location, wrong precinct” votes and “wrong location, wrong precinct” ballots if poll workers fail to direct voters to the proper spot. “These poll worker errors are the same … regardless of whether a voter arrives at the correct or incorrect polling location,” Marbley wrote. “‘Wrong location, wrong precinct’ ballot disqualifications are, in one sense, still more troubling as there have been numerous instances in which poll workers have directed voters to incorrect polling locations, even when voters originally arrived at the correct location.”