Nearly every legislative and congressional election in Ohio this month had one thing in common: They were blowouts. It didn’t matter whether the winner was a Democrat or Republican, the story was the same. “I was certainly surprised by the margins,” said Rep. Scott Ryan, R-Newark, vice chairman of the Ohio House Republican Organizational Committee. “In many districts where the typical mix would be more 50-50, the races still weren’t close. That was very surprising to me.” But Secretary of State Jon Husted couldn’t muster any surprise. The partisan gerrymandering process that allowed Republicans to draw legislative and congressional seats in their favor continues to provide most general-election voters with no real option at the ballot, he said.
Articles about voting issues in Ohio.
A federal district court Nov. 14 declined to reconsider a decision that implementing an online ballot-marking tool in Ohio is an unreasonable request under federal law ( Hindel v. Husted , S.D. Ohio, No. 2:15-cv-3061, 11/14/16 ). The National Federation of the Blind and three blind, registered voters alleged that Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide an alternative to paper absentee ballots. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio ruled in May that the technology would fundamentally alter the state’s voting system because it hadn’t been used in a prior Ohio election nor certified in accordance with state law.
Democrats made a last-ditch plea to the Supreme Court Sunday night, urging the justices to restore an injunction barring Donald Trump’s campaign and its allies from Election Day actions that could intimidate voters looking to cast their ballots in the battleground state of Ohio. The Ohio Democratic Party’s emergency application to the high court asked the justices to reimpose the restraining order a federal appeals court lifted earlier in the day, arguing the 6th Circuit had issued a finding “with no basis in law.” The application seems likely to face an uphill battle at the shorthanded Supreme Court. Five justices are typically needed to grant such relief and the court is currently split 4-4 between Democratic and Republican appointees. Partisan considerations aside, the justices are also often wary of making last-minute changes to election rules or procedures.
The last pending legal challenge to Ohio’s voting laws died a quick death Monday when it was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. And thousands of Ohio voters could have their ballots thrown out as a result, the attorney who filed the lawsuit says. Justice Elena Kagan dismissed the matter after consulting with the other seven members of the high court, her one-sentence decision indicated. “This case has been ongoing in Ohio, taking many forms, under the administration of three secretaries of state, both Democratic and Republican, and it is time for the chaos and waste of taxpayer money to come to an end,” said Secretary of State Jon Husted in a statement Monday night. The attorney pushing the challenge, Subodh Chandra of Cleveland, said, “Unfortunately, Secretary of State Husted is now free in this election to disenfranchise voters who he and the elections boards know are eligible, over ‘errors’ as trivial as writing a name legibly in cursive on a form rather than in print. And Husted is free to continue his scheme to have boards in the big, urban counties disfranchise voters when smaller, white rural counties count ballots involving identical errors — and he looks the other way.”
Voting is no easy task for Roland Gilbert. The retired Ohio lawyer, 86, who is legally blind, completes his absentee ballot with help from a machine that magnifies the print. So the registered Democrat was not completely surprised to learn he had made an error in filling out his 2014 ballot, entering that day’s date in the birthdate field. What surprised him was that it cost him his vote. Local election officials rejected it because it did not perfectly match his registration information on file. “It didn’t seem right,” Gilbert said. “I felt foolish for making a silly mistake.” Laws passed by the Republican-led Ohio state legislature in 2014 require voters to accurately fill out their personal information on absentee or provisional ballots or they will be rejected — even if the votes are otherwise valid. The laws are being applied in a presidential election for the first time this year.
Ohio: Trump campaign, Ohio GOP ask federal judge not to limit poll watchers | Cleveland Plain Dealer
A lawyer for Donald Trump’s campaign wrote in a brief filed Wednesday that the Republican candidate’s statements encouraging supporters to watch the polls for Democratic voter fraud are protected speech and that preventing supporters from espousing those same views near polling places on Election Day would trample on their free-speech rights. Chad Readler, an attorney for the Jones Day law firm, wrote that a lawsuit filed in federal court in Cleveland Sunday by the Ohio Democratic Party is based on “miscellaneous long-ago statements, vague innuendo, rank speculation, and a heavy dose of rhetoric.” The suit says Republicans are engaging in voter intimidation. He wrote that Trump and other candidates “are perfectly within their rights to encourage their supporters to serve as poll watchers” and that an order preventing supporters from harassing or intimidating voters outside of polling places would violate the First Amendment.
Hundreds of voters in northwest Ohio say they have not received their absentee ballots in the mail. The problem starts seems to start at the mail sorting center in Pontiac, Michigan. The ballots were sent from Lucas, Wood and five other counties October 12. But twenty days later, many still have not been delivered. Tuesday, Ohio Secretary of State, Jon Husted, visited the board of elections office in Wood County. He says voting has gone smoothly in Ohio except for this absentee ballot problem. Husted puts the blame squarely on the postal system, saying, “It’s completely unacceptable. The post office needs to do a better job.” Husted has been in touch with the post office but, so far, no explanation for what happened.
Ohio: Federal judge orders Ohio Republicans, Trump’s campaign to respond to voter-intimidation lawsuit | Cleveland Plain Dealer
A federal judge has given the Ohio Republican Party, Donald Trump’s campaign and a longtime adviser until the end of Wednesday to respond to a lawsuit state Democrats filed that said the Republicans are engaging in voter intimidation. The order entered Tuesday by U.S. District Judge James Gwin in Cleveland says the defendants’ response must include any objections to an order “limiting voter intimidation” or “limiting people at polling locations who are not authorized poll watchers or outside the polling stations.” The speed in which Gwin ordered the response, while not necessarily signaling how he feels about the case, shows that the judge is taking the accusations of voter intimidation seriously before Nov. 8 Election Day.
Ohio: Hundreds march to Board of Elections to cast ballots, protest dearth of early-voting locations | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Several hundred voters marched to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections on Sunday to cast ballots and protest the limited number of in-house early voting locations in Ohio. The marchers departed at 2:30 p.m. from the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and traveled a half-mile to the Board of Elections headquarters on Euclid Avenue. Greater Cleveland Congregations and the Amalgamated Transit Union organized the event to encourage Cuyahoga County residents to vote early before the general election on Nov. 8.
Leon Neisius is ready to follow Donald Trump’s call to sign up as a polling place monitor. But not in his home, mostly rural Fairfield County. He wants to watch over voting in urban Franklin County. “Fraud’s more likely up there,” said the 73-year-old retired Air Force technician who lives near Pickerington. Josh Parks, 20, also wants to get trained as a poll-watcher so he can ferret out suspicious behavior. The construction worker from Westfield in Delaware County is looking forward to casting his first presidential vote — for Trump — but suspects it may not count because of fraud. “I wouldn’t doubt it,” said Parks, who, like Neisius, was attending a Trump rally last week in Delaware. While presidential elections are always high-stakes endeavors in Ohio, Trump’s insistence that this year’s vote might be rigged, and his call for supporters to keep watch at polling places, has raised the prospect of possible voter intimidation. “It’s disheartening. At some point you say, ‘When will this end?’” said Alicia Reece, head of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus.