Each election year, Ohio residents cast thousands of ballots that are not counted. Despite efforts to simplify the state’s voting to avoid the widespread discarding of ballots, significant questions remain about whether every Ohioan’s vote will be counted Nov. 6 — and whether the state, always pivotal in close presidential races, can assure the nation a timely, accurate and lawsuit-free count. “If the Wednesday headlines the day after the election say, ‘All eyes are on Ohio,’ it probably won’t be a good thing,” said Ed Foley, an Ohio State University law professor and a nationally respected expert on election laws.
The Cincinnati Enquirer, during a weeks-long examination of the state’s electoral procedures, found that a confusing maze of state laws, administrative directives and court rulings on voting procedures, errors — by voters and poll workers alike — and other factors cause large numbers of ballots to end up in the electoral trash can every year, particularly in urban counties. Votes routinely are disqualified because they are cast in the wrong precinct, often only feet from the correct location. Hundreds more have been tossed out for another relatively minor miscue: voters’ failure to seal an inner envelope containing their absentee ballot.