Move over, Snopes, there’s a new conspiracy theory debunker on the case. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted issued a press release Tuesday refuting an online article claiming “tens of thousands” of Hillary Clinton ballots were found in a Franklin County warehouse. The article, published Sept. 30 by Christian Times Newspaper, featured a photo of boxes allegedly full of Clinton ballots. Actually,the photo was taken in 2015 during the U.K. election. The article stated the “likely goal was to slip the fake ballot boxes in with the real ballot boxes when they went to official election judges on November 8th.”
Ohio: Secretary of State Jon Husted wants feds to butt out on running state elections | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Secretary of State Jon Husted said cyber attackers would have a hard time disrupting Ohio’s elections but expressed concern about what the federal government could do if it took over the state’s election computer systems. Husted, the state’s chief elections officer, wrote to congressional leaders Thursday asking that the House and Senate make clear that federal agencies cannot involve themselves in the election process. The letter was prompted by comments from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson that his department would review whether state election systems should be considered as “critical infrastructure” under the Homeland Security Act of 2002. Such a designation would give the federal government ability to step in to protect those systems.
The groups trying to undo the state’s purge of tens of thousands of Ohioans from voter rolls because of failing to vote or confirm home addresses have a powerful new ally in their court fight — the U.S. Justice Department. The legal battle erupted in April when the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless filed suit in federal court in Columbus. It challenged Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s move to revoke the registrations of an unspecified number of residents because they didn’t respond to address verification requests or hadn’t voted in four years. U.S. District Judge George Smith upheld Husted’s actions on June 29. The plaintiffs, who are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the public policy group Demos, appealed to the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
Ohio: As the GOP Convention Begins, Ohio Is Purging Tens of Thousands of Democratic Voters | The Nation
Larry Harmon, a 59-year-old software engineer and Navy vet, went the polls in 2015 in his hometown of Kent, Ohio, to vote on a state ballot initiative. But poll workers told him he was no longer registered and could not vote. “I felt embarrassed and stupid at the time,” Harmon told Reuters. “The more I think about it, the madder I am,” he said. Harmon voted for Barack Obama in 2008 but had not returned to vote until 2015. He later learned that he was purged from the rolls in Ohio for “infrequent voting” because he had not voted in a six-year period, even though he hadn’t moved or done anything to change his registration status. The same thing is now happening to tens of thousands of voters across the state. The fear is that voters who cast ballots in 2008 but have not participated since, particularly first-time voters for Obama, will show up in 2016 to find that they are no longer registered. Ohio has purged more voters over a 5-year period than any other state.
Secretary of State Jon Husted is not illegally removing voters from voter registration rolls, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed suit in April arguing Husted was too aggressive in his efforts to clean-up voter rolls in an effort to keep the list updated. In recent years, Husted’s office has removed 465,000 deceased voters and 1.3 million duplicate registrations from Ohio’s voter rolls. The ACLU argued Husted violated the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 by canceling the registrations of those who do not update their registrations or vote over six years, including three federal general elections. Voters also are sent a confirmation notice. But U.S. District Judge George C. Smith said Ohio’s process is consistent with the Registration Act because voters are never removed from the rolls solely for failure to vote.
Ohio: Voting rights activists say election lawsuit claiming Jon Husted illegally purged voters is not over | Cleveland Plain Dealer
A day after Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted scored a win in federal court, voting rights activists say the case is not over. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless sued Husted in April, arguing the practice of removing voters who are inactive over six years violated the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also called the “Motor Voter” law. U.S. District Judge George C. Smith disagreed, saying Ohio’s method Ohio’s process is consistent with federal laws because voters are not removed solely for not voting. “The court finds that the public interest is being served by Ohio’s voter maintenance procedures and will continue to be served as long as Ohio continues to operate in compliance with the NVRA,” Smith wrote.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted today contacted the Voter Participation Center in Washington D.C. to make them aware of a number of recurring errors surrounding the group’s voter registration drive. Both the Secretary of State’s Office and Boards of Election across Ohio have reported an unusually high number of voter complaints regarding the effort, which is attempting to contact unregistered individuals via U.S. Mail with a voter registration form. Ohioans have reported the registration mailing being addressed to family pets as well as to those who will not yet be 18 before the November 2016 General Election. The Voter Participation Center’s mailing has also commonly been ad- dressed to people who do not live in Ohio as well as citizens who are deceased.
Between 1.5 million and 2.3 million Ohioans are eligible to vote but can’t because they are not registered. Secretary of State Jon Husted is going after every one of them, hoping to sign them up in this presidential election year. An estimated 80,000 already on Ohio’s voter registration rolls are also registered in other states, while 360,000 need to update their registration because they’ve moved within Ohio. Husted is going after every one of them, too. Unless they fix their registration they will either be forced to cast a provisional ballot or be purged from the list. Fueled by a $400,000 grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts, Ohio is joining the Electronic Registration Information Center, a nonprofit group that includes 20 states. So in the end, will the effort generate more or fewer registered voters in Ohio? “That’s the $64,000 question,” said David Becker, Pew’s director of election initiatives, who attended a Statehouse news conference Tuesday with Husted. Becker said that when other states signed up with ERIC, the twin efforts to register new voters and purge those ineligible essentially wound up canceling each other out.
Betsy Heer spent her birthday in November 2004 standing in a cold rain, waiting 10½ hours to vote. She’s runs a bed-and-breakfast in the tiny town of Gambier, Ohio. Many of the 1,300 people who joined her in line were students at Kenyon College. “So yeah, it was exhausting and it was exciting and it was frustrating and it was all those things. But it definitely was democracy in action.” And in nearly every election since, Heer has opted instead to vote early. The reason she can is an overhaul of Ohio’s early voting laws spurred by what one judge called the “disastrous” 2004 election. The changes helped make election days smooth. But they’ve also created cycle of laws and lawsuits that make courts in Ohio a big player in the national debate over voter access. “They know how to ski in Colorado, we know how to litigate elections in Ohio,” laughs Ned Foley, director of Ohio State University’s election-law program. He notes that the fights in Ohio include one that’s been dragging on for a decade. There are battles over rejected ballots and efforts to eliminate “Souls to the Polls” Sunday. Over purging voter rolls and eliminating same-day registration-and-voting.
With the vocal support of GOP legislative leaders Wednesday, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted appealed the latest of two voting rights rulings against the state, blaming them for creating “ chaos and voter confusion.” “Unfortunately, in the time span of just two weeks, the integrity of our elections has been jeopardized as two federal judges have issued decisions that directly conflict with each other and put our elections process in limbo with no clear path forward absent a clear ruling from the appellate court,” Husted said. Democrats who won both court cases say if the Republicans want someone to blame for “chaos” in Ohio’s voting laws, they should look in the mirror. “Their handiwork continues to violate the Constitution — that’s where the chaos and confusion comes from,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “They’re just playing games at this point.”
Doug Chapin knows it’s a cliche, but he can’t help himself when asked to explain why our state sees so many bitter battles over voting. “I think Ohio just ends up being the epicenter of the perfect storm,” says the elections-law expert with the University of Minnesota. He cites three reasons: No state is a more reliable barometer of presidential elections; few, if any, states have a more powerful secretary of state; and “the level of mutual partisan distrust in Ohio is as high as anyplace.” In case you’re skeptical of the latter point, you should listen to the litany Ohio Democratic Chairman David Pepper throws at GOP Secretary of State Jon Husted. Pepper, who teaches election law as an adjunct at the University of Cincinnati, points to how Husted and other state officials have been shot down “over and over and over and over” in various courts for trying to restrict Ohioans’ voting rights in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Ohio: State asks federal judge to delay reinstating ‘Golden Week’ allowing registration, voting | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Ohio has asked a federal judge in Columbus to hold off enforcing an order requiring the state to allow voting during Golden Week, when voters can both register to vote and cast an in-person absentee ballot. U.S. District Judge Michael Watson last week struck down a state law that eliminated Golden Week, ruling that the 2014 law violates both the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. That law shortened early voting from 35 days before an election to 28. Husted said then that the state would appeal the ruling.
The state of Ohio filed a federal court appeal on Thursday seeking to restore a Republican-backed limit on early voting and accelerated voter-registration measures that were seen by civil rights groups as boosting minority turnout. U.S. District Judge Michael Watson in Columbus ruled on Tuesday that Ohio violated voters’ rights by reducing the period that ballots could be cast before an election to four weeks from five weeks. Watson’s decision also struck down Ohio’s elimination of a seven-day window during which residents could both register to vote and cast their ballots all in the same week – a period known as “Golden Week.”
Ohio: ACLU sues Secretary of State Jon Husted over removing voters from the rolls | Cleveland Plain Dealer
A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday is suing Ohio Secretary of State over how state officials remove inactive voters from the rolls. The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio on behalf of Ohio A. Phillip Randolph Institute and Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, argues people are removed from Ohio voter rolls in violation of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also called the “Motor Voter” law. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said the state manages its voter rolls in compliance with both federal and state laws and has been complying a 2012 settlement requiring voter rolls to be scrutinized and maintained. “This lawsuit is politically motivated, election-year politics, is a waste of taxpayer dollars, and opens the door for voter fraud in Ohio,” Husted said in a statement.
Ohio: Husted says he’s intent on finding fix to absentee-ballot postmark issues | The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said he isn’t sure the U.S. Postal Service has a solution to the postmark issues that plagued absentee ballots during last year’s general election. Speaking at the Ohio Association of Election Officials Convention at the Hilton Downtown Columbus on Wednesday, he said it was partially up to election workers to figure out a solution to the problem. “We don’t need to look at blame. We need to look at a way forward,” Husted said. Ohio voter law allows absentee ballots to be counted if their postmark date falls before Election Day, even if the ballots don’t arrive until after. In November, 1,523 ballots were not counted because the U.S. Post Office did not postmark them. “My priority is to ensure voters who follow the law that their votes will be counted,” said Husted, a Republican.
Ohio’s elections chief is confident that glitches encountered in November’s elections will be corrected before the battleground state holds its high-stakes presidential primary in March, he said on Friday. Secretary of State Jon Husted said he plans a series of steps to ensure that problems with postmarks and poll books aren’t repeated. The remarks came on a day when he received reports related to snags in the Nov. 3 elections and met with U.S. Deputy Postmaster Ronald Stroman. Husted insisted that the pivotal swing state will be ready for 2016. “There’s no other option,” he said.
A national advocacy group for visually impaired people and three Ohio voters are suing Secretary of State Jon Husted, claiming some services provided by Husted’s office are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The complaint, filed Monday in federal district court in Columbus, alleges the state’s voter services website is inaccessible to visually impaired voters and the state’s system of paper-only absentee ballots infringes on their right to vote. Visually impaired people use screen access software that reads websites aloud or displays the text on a Braille device. The secretary of state’s website, which allows voters to update their registration information and request absentee ballots, is incompatible with screen access software, according to the complaint. Blind voters must then complete forms on paper, which they cannot do without human assistance.
An agency advocating for the disabled has sued Secretary of State Jon Husted for allegedly denying voters who are blind equal access to absentee voting and his state website. Disability Rights Ohio filed a lawsuit on Monday in U.S. District Court in Columbus on behalf of three residents of Columbus, Cincinnati and Oberlin, Ohio, as well as the National Federation of the Blind. The suit alleges that Husted, as the state’s chief elections officer, has denied “individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to vote absentee privately and independently and to access its voter services website, in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.” The suit seeks an injunction against Husted, plus attorney fees and costs.
In a clash foreshadowing next year’s presidential election, Democrats in the Ohio House and voter activists now want big changes in how voter registration rolls are purged in the state. Experts consider registration the No. 1 factor in determining participation, and a bill unveiled last week by state Rep. Kathleen Clyde, a Kent Democrat, seeks to stop state officials from removing from the rolls voters who move within the state or who have been inactive. Her bill still would allow purging voters who move out of state and would leave intact the removal process for those who die or request to be removed.
Ohio: Postal Service to develop policy for postmarking absentee ballots after concerns raised about discounted ballots in Summit County | Akron Beacon Journal
The U.S. Postal Service will develop a policy on postmarking absentee ballots in light of concerns raised this week by Summit County elections officials about nearly 900 ballots discounted because they lacked postmarks. “We will be talking to the Ohio Secretary of State to reach a mutual understanding of acceptable postmarks for absentee ballots and develop a uniform policy addressing all concerns to help prevent this from happening again,” David Van Allen, a postal spokesman, said Thursday in a written statement.
Attorneys representing Ohio Democrats in a legal dispute over changes to the swing state’s voting laws said Monday that a federal judge should strike down the adjustments because their burden on voters outweighs any benefit to the state. But lawyers for the state claim the voting changes were minor and argue that Ohio offers many opportunities for its residents to vote. At issue in the case are a series of Republican-backed changes that Democrats allege disproportionately burden minority voters and those who lean Democratic. Among the policy changes was elimination of a week of early voting in which Ohioans also could register to vote, known as “golden week.” U.S. District Judge Michael Watson heard opening statements in the trial that began Monday and is expected to stretch into next week. The case is being tried before Watson instead of a jury. The case also challenges rules related to absentee and provisional ballots, and limitations to in-person, early voting locations. Democrats want Watson to block the policies from being enforced.
Democrats in the swing state of Ohio have filed a federal lawsuit claiming a series of voting-related changes made by Republicans disproportionately burden voters who lean Democratic and violate certain constitutional rights. The state’s Republican elections chief contends the voting process is fair and has called the lawsuit politically motivated. … The Ohio Organizing Collaborative filed the lawsuit in May in Columbus federal court. But attorneys for the nonprofit recently withdrew the organization from the case, saying it lacked the “institutional capability” to remain a plaintiff. The state’s Democratic Party and Cuyahoga and Montgomery county parties took its place. They join three Ohio residents who are also plaintiffs. They are suing Jon Husted, the state’s Republican elections chief, and Mike DeWine, Ohio’s attorney general, over the voting policies.
The Hamilton County Board of Elections is investigating difficulties a number of voters faced last week as they sought to weigh in on controversial local and state ballot issues. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted called for the investigation in light of hurdles voters faced Nov. 3. Those problems led to an order to keep polls in the county open an extra hour and a half. While the board’s investigation continues ahead of a Dec. 11 deadline, officials say the county’s new electronic voting system might have played a role. For some in Hamilton County, voting was arduous, with technical glitches forcing voters to cast provisional ballots and imprecise information given by poll workers sending other voters scrambling. At least some of these problems, officials say, were likely caused by a mistake involving an erroneous date entered into the electronic system that left it unable to recognize voters who registered after that date. The difficulties could spell trouble during next year’s sure-to-be-contentious presidential election, where Ohio will play a central role.
More evidence is emerging calling into question the officially reported results of Tuesday’s marijuana legalization vote in Ohio, where Issue 3 was defeated by a two-to-one margin. On Friday, the Columbus Free Press published a series of screenshots of live televised election returns from Dayton’s WHIO-TV provided by Ohio’s Secretary of State. The sequence showed hundreds of thousands of votes flipped within minutes from the “yes” to “no” column of Issue 3. The controversial measure would have established a state-licensed cartel of 10 licensed growers operating regulated indoor grow sites of up to 300,000 square feet each. The pro-marijuana activist community was divided on the measure. The screenshots, posted below, show hundreds of thousands of votes flipping from the “yes” to the “no” column in 11 minutes, even though the number of precincts reporting only increased by 6 percent. In the first screenshot, with 39 percent of precincts reporting, the pot measure is winning 65-to-35 percent. In the second screenshot those percentages are reversed, even though the number of precincts reporting results has only increased by 6 percent. Look at the number of votes in each column and you will see that hundreds of thousands have been jumped from supporting to opposing the measure.
The votes still were being counted late Tuesday at Hamilton County’s board of elections when officials there began to talk about next year. It was not a pleasant conversation. The delays, mistakes and technological glitches that plagued Tuesday’s vote caused headaches for everyone involved in the process. But election officials know that’s nothing compared to the epic migraine they’d get if those errors are repeated next fall, during a presidential election that could hinge on Ohio and Hamilton County. If an election featuring a few statewide issues and local tax levies could bring so much pain, it wasn’t hard for the people in charge of elections here to imagine what would happen if the stakes were higher. Armies of lawyers and political operatives would roll into town. Wolf Blitzer might go live from Fountain Square. It might not be Florida’s hanging chads, but it wouldn’t be pretty. “We’re in a crucial state in a presidential election year and we’ve got to get it right,” said Alex Triantafilou, a board of elections member and the chairman of the county GOP. “There’s no sugarcoating it,” he said of Tuesday’s vote. “Last night was a disaster, and we need to fix it.”
The launch of Hamilton County’s new electronic voter sign-in system hit some snags Tuesday as voters and poll workers in several polling locations struggled with the technology. The trouble was severe enough in 10 of the county’s 364 polling places that workers had to resort to the old paper poll books to sign in voters. The problems were not isolated to those locations, however, as voters in several other spots around the county complained they were given provisional ballots when their names did not appear on the electronic registry. “That’s unacceptable,” said Joseph Brotzge, a Loveland man who voted provisionally after poll workers could not find his name at the polling place where he has voted for 30 years. “It tells me they did poor planning. This is not the type of experience one wants to have.” … Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said the problems were likely the result of human error, rather than the fault of the new technology. Husted, who stopped by one of the county’s busiest polling places in St. Bernard early Tuesday, said the new system is working well overall and voters are generally happy with it.
Ohio: Special election will select replacement for John Boehner’s congressional seat | Cleveland Plain Dealer
A special election will be held for House Speaker John Boehner’s congressional seat, and the field is wide open for who might next represent Ohio’s 8th District. Boehner’s resignation Friday means voters will have to elect someone to finish his term through December 2016. His resignation takes effect Oct. 30 — too late to add his…
The end of the line is nearing for Ohio’s electronic voting machines, which a new report indicates could cause trouble during the 2016 election. According to the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, 90 percent of Ohio counties are using machines that are 10 years old. Report co-author Christopher Famighetti says that’s much longer than the machines are designed to last. “Most of us don’t keep our laptops, desktops, over a decade, and that’s the type of technology that most of the machines in use today are using,” he explains.
In America’s quintessential swing state, aging voting machines and partisan battles are casting doubt over the fairness of the 2016 election. Immediately after the 2004 election, when tens of thousands of Ohioans waited hours to vote, the state enacted a series of reforms that began to address the worst of that year’s nightmares. But now much of that progress is in danger of being undone. The Buckeye State is far from alone. Politicians and advocates are waging similar battles across the country, but the stakes may be highest here, in perhaps the most important of swing states on the national electoral map. With voting laws in flux and funding a for better voting technology a constant struggle nationwide, two central questions remain just 14 months before Election Day: who will be able to vote, and will all their votes be counted accurately? In 2005, Ohio passed a sweeping bill that expanded early and absentee voting, and a series of legal settlements in the following years helped put in place some of the nation’s best electoral practices. But over the past few years, Republicans have been chipping away at many of those changes. GOP leaders say they’re simply trying to guarantee uniformity and prevent voter fraud, but voting rights advocacy groups say the recent changes threaten to bring back problems from the past, and may be driven by an effort to suppress voter turnout.
Ohio: Secretary of State advises counties on electronic pollbooks | The Jackson County Times-Journal
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted recently advised county boards of elections on the amount of funding available to each board for the implementation of new electronic pollbooks. “E-Pollbooks are a great advancement in voter technology that will make elections simpler for both Ohio voters and the staff and volunteers who assist them on Election Day,” explained Husted. The state legislature appropriated $12.7 million to aid county governments in covering the cost of upgrading to e-pollbooks during the biennial budget (Am. Sub. H.B. 64) enacted on June 30.