The deadline is quickly approaching for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to certify the final vote counts of the 2012 election, and while the extra votes won’t have an impact on the big races like President Obama and Senator Brown, it could impact some down-ticket races including two important state house races – Matt Patten and Joshua O’Farrell – that will determine if Republicans gain a super majority in the Ohio House.
Not unexpectedly, Jon Husted continues to do everything in his power to prevent potential Democratic votes from being counted in these, and is likely breaking federal law in the process.
According to a letter sent by Ohio State Representative Kathleen Clyde, Husted’s directives require Tuscarawas County Board of Elections not to count ballots that may have been cast by people who have moved but return to their former precinct to vote. The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 requires that these voters be allowed to vote:
A registrant who has moved from an address in the area covered by one polling place to an address in an area covered by a second polling place within the same registrar’s jurisdiction and the same congressional district… shall be permitted to correct the voting records and vote at the registrant’s former polling place
While it’s unclear the exact number of ballots that may be impacted, even a small number could swing these races. The uncounted ballots in Tuscarawas county are especially important because they will likely determine the outcome of the O’Farrell race, among others. The deputy director of that county’s Board of Elections stated that the ballots in question “are mostly cast by people who have moved but return to their former precinct to vote.”
OSU Professor Dan Tokaji, an authority on election law and voting rights, confirmed “that a subset of ballots cast at the wrong precinct should be counted under the NVRA.”
Given everything Husted has done this election season to keep Ohioans from having their votes counted, and all of the court battles it took to get a portion of those rights restored, we are hardly surprised that Jon would let something like federal law stand in the way at this point in the process.
But we’d be lying if we said we weren’t disappointed, and a little embarrassed, that Ohio is again at the center of so much election controversy at the hands of a Republican Secretary of State.