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Saturday
Nov172012

We Tried to Protect Legitimate Voters

We lost the appeal that the Secretary of State launched over his last minute directive before the November Election.  The federal district court Algenon Marbley (appointed by President Clinton) had blasted the Secretary of State Jon Husted for issuing this directive only four days before the election late in the evening on Friday.  He had said that it changed state policy from what had happened in the past and what his own lawyers had argued in court only 12 days before this directive.  Judge Marbley believed that the directive violated the Ohio State voting law. 

A panel of the three appeals court judges (appointed by both of the Bush Presidents) disagreed with Marbley.  These judges said that we should have raised these issues weeks ago.  They felt that the local Boards could not count these votes at this point, which would be contrary to the law.  Since the affirmation may not be filled in correctly, the appeals court judges believed that any direction by the courts to count these voters would be to allow anyone without identification to vote on election day.  The appeals court found that we should have taken this up in State Court, and that Marbley had expanded our agreement improperly. 

Here is the statement from our attorney Subodh Chandra, who has done exhaustive work on protecting the right to vote in Ohio:

"My clients are disappointed that the Sixth Circuit panel's decision is unfaithful to its own precedent, evades the facts on how Secretary Husted's eleventh-hour actions were contrary to Ohio law and court order, and effectively licenses the Secretary in his latest scheme to disenfranchise voters. And there will be legitimate provisional voters disenfranchised as a result of this ruling. Unfortunately, right now, we won't be able to know exactly who they are, because the Secretary and Attorney General are also hiding the provisional voters' identities behind a veil of secrecy."

Jon Husted issued a statement that said:
"Despite efforts of those who sought to create controversy where none existed, we ran a smooth election in Ohio and did so according to the law and the Constitution. Today's court ruling is vindication. "
My response to all of this is:
We tried to make sure that every legitimate voter who came to vote was allowed to vote.  We did not want a confusing form, a confusing set of instructions, or bad advice from County employees to trash a legal voter.  I can't even imagine how this could be considered a smooth election.  Anytime there are multiple lawsuits, lines that last longer than an hour, and multiple fights at the local level on even the hours of voting, this cannot be considered a "smooth election."  Considering that the training for poll workers was done weeks ago, I cannot come up with one reason for issuing this directive at 7 pm. on the Friday before the election except to cause confusion and suppress legitimate votes in poorer areas of the state. 
The state estimated that there were 2,000 of the 200,000 provisional ballots were not filled out correctly and would be thrown out.  We will see on Monday when the count is released.  These are legitimate voters who showed up to vote but did not have the proper ID, so they filled out a provisional ballot.  Then they had to complete the affirmation on their own and made a mistake.  These are eligible voters who just could not follow the directions on the envelope of the form and will have their ballot thrown away.  It is a shame that the Secretary of State will not face any consequence for waiting so long to issue this directive.
Brian Davis

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