Have you ever mistakenly printed the wrong date on a check? Make a similar error on a ballot, and your vote might not count in Ohio. Voting rights advocates say that’s not fair. They challenged two laws passed by Ohio’s GOP-controlled state legislature in federal court and won. But Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted appealed the decision, saying courts were upending democratically-passed laws. “(T)he only thing that has been achieved is chaos and voter confusion,” Husted, a Republican, said in a statement. Lawyers will argue whether these laws are constitutional Thursday. Here’s what they do: Ballots can be tossed if voters don’t fill out five fields of basic information like date of birth or current address on absentee or provisional ballots. These mistakes are relatively rare: about 2,800 ballots were invalidated from the November 2014 election out of more than 900,000 provisional and absentee ballots. Still, voting rights advocates argue these mistakes hurt real voters and disproportionately affect urban counties with higher numbers of African-American voters – a key voting bloc for Democrats. “Ohio Secretary of State and general assembly have been trying to skew the voting process in favor of voters they believe are friendly for them, and that’s mostly white voters,” said Subodh Chandra, an attorney representing Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless in the case.
In Franklin County, a man accidentally wrote October as his birth month because he was casting an absentee ballot in October. He later received notice that his ballot had been thrown out because of the error, but the notice was sent too late for him to fix the problem. If election officials spot an error and notify the voter, the voter has seven days to fix the error – down from 10 days several years ago.
A 92-year-old woman in a Summit County assisted-living facility had her absentee ballot rejected because someone who filled out the form on her behalf mistakenly wrote the date of the election in the spot marked for her social security number.
And whether election officials toss out ballots isn’t uniform from county to county. Some might reject people who sign their names in cursive rather than print them. If a ZIP code is missing, that might invalidate a ballot in one county but not another, Chandra said.
Full Article: Lawsuit: Ballots tossed for minor errors.