Another Victory to Expand Access to the Ballot Box

Today, the federal appeals court affirmed the decision of Judge Marbley to allow the counting of provisional ballots even for those who are misdirected to the wrong precinct by the poll workers.  This was decided during this summer, but the State of Ohio and Secretary of State appealed to the US Appeals court.  Our position was clear, if a woman struggles to get the polling place and she is told to vote at the wrong table in the gym because of an error by a poorly trained poll worker her vote should still count.  The state wants the woman to assert herself and counter the authority of the poll worker and insist on voting at the other table.  The state's position was that if the woman was given bad advice her vote should be thrown away.  This did not make sense that she had to challenge the poll worker if she wanted her provisional ballot to actually count. 

Since all voting issues have unfortunately become politicized and we have seen the Republican party push legislation that has the effect of disenfranchising thousands of voters.  It is not stated as disenfranchising voters, but the results are that legitimate voters are not allowed to vote because they don't have the right identification, or are given bad information, or cannot get to the polls during normal business hours to vote.   This decision restores some confidence in the judiciary which does not seem to be on the same page as the Republican dominated legislature.  Courts have sided with allowing more people to vote and having as many legitimate votes count.  This particular Appeals Court we drew in the Sixth Circuit were all appointed by Republican Presidents and largely affirmed the Democratic district court decision of Judge Marbley.  There is some additional work that needs to be done by the District court needs to do to resolve the directive provided to the 88 counties, but otherwise this is a victory for those who want to have every legitimate vote count.

It is unfortunate that the Secretary of State continues to delay and confuse the electorate with these appeals and court actions.  He has now developed a track record for losing in court.  Think how much money he has wasted on defending these positions that are significantly outside the mainstream.   Think how much time has been wasted which could have been spent on training and providing additional resources to the local boards to oversee the cleanest and most professional election in the country.  Now, we can get to actually voting, and be assured that those who show up on election day will have the best chance we could provide under the current law that their vote will be counted.

Brian Davis