We spent a ton of time at the end of last year and the beginning of 2016, working to protect people who took the time to vote to assure that their ballot was counted. We found that thousands of Ohioans attempted to vote by mail or were forced to vote by Provisional ballot and because of a minor error in the envelope they returned their vote was thrown in the trash. This included not counting ballots with readable cursive writing where it says "print name" or those older folks who accidentally mixed up a digit on the envelope. Remember, for the most part on the absentee ballot envelope the critical information is printed by the Board of Elections on the envelope. So, the boards were not confused over the person's identity. They were just tripping people up for minor critical errors to exclude voters. There was no legitimate reason for this hypercritical look at the envelopes. Federal Court judge Algenon Marbley agreed with us and struck down this law. With the restoration of Golden Week this is the second time in the last few weeks that a Husted supported change in the voting process was overturned by the courts.
Here are a few media outlets which featured stories on this issue:
- Cleveland Plain Dealer did a comprehensive story here.
- Columbus Dispatch did a story but forgot our name.
- MSNBC covered the story.
- Cincinnati.com had the Associated Press story here.
- It also was covered in the New York Times.
We held another training yesterday for social service providers and you can keep updated on all the information on homeless voting by clicking on the "Vote" button on our website.
The Secretary of State almost immediately announced that he would appeal this decision. As a participant in the trial, I have to say that the state's case was weak from the beginning. They never explained:
- Why there was a disparity in various counties in the enforcement of these rules? Why were small counties more forgiving when compared to big counties?
- Why did the state need this law? What problem were they trying to correct? I thought the core of the Republican agenda was getting rid of unnecessary regulations?
- Why was there no opportunity to correct these issues instead of automatically disenfranchising the voter?
- Why does this law disproportionately impact elderly and low income individuals?
Our side explained the history of voter suppression activities in the state legislation. There were concerns from the witnesses to overturn this law over racist billboards and highly offensive comments by Ohio political leaders about lower income minority voters. We attempted to refute the state's case that this only impacted a smaller number of voters so it is not a big deal. I raised the concern that the Secretary of State was championing the dozen of fraudulant voters (out of millions cast) in his Annual Report to voters while not mentioning the thousands of legitimate voters who lost their right to vote because they were not careful in reading, understanding and putting down their information.
We have to congratulate our attorney Subodh Chandra and the woman who did a ton of the work on the case locally, Sandhya Gupta. Ms. Gupta gave up sleep for a month to answer all the State's questions and respond to all the depositions. She did an amazing amount of work on this case and we are so glad that all her work paid off. Ms. Gupta was so supportive and such a quiet yet powerful advocate for voter rights in Ohio. Thanks to Caroline Gentry and Don McTigue for all their work making the case for counting every legitimate vote cast in the election.
by Brian Davis
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