8 p.m. Nov. 3, 2012
Contact: Norman Robbins, Research Director, Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; telephone 216-767-1525 or (2nd choice) 216-632-9556
THOUSANDS OF OHIO VOTERS LIKELY TO BE DISENFRANCHISED BECAUSE SECRETARY OF STATE HUSTED FAILS TO CORRECT INADEQUATE DATA BASE SEARCHES
Beginning Tuesday October 30, Sec. of State Husted was informed by us that Cuyahoga County had reviewed its applications for absentee ballots that had been rejected for being “not registered” and had found it had missed 865 voters (The County immediately corrected this error and later found still more). Also, in a sample of similar rejections from Franklin County, we had found that 38% were apparently mistakenly called “not registered”. Therefore, we implored the Secretary to require a more effective search strategy to prevent such mistakes in all counties, but there was never a direct response. Instead, on Wednesday night, the Secretary’s office sent a bulletin to all counties proposing an inadequate search (which we pointed out to him). As a result we believe thousands of voters statewide have been incorrectly informed that they “are not registered voters” (but told they “could” vote a provisional ballot). Such voters are likely to be discouraged from voting at all. The deadline has passed to send these voters absentee ballots. Therefore, there needs to be an immediate and broad public announcement that all voters who have been officially informed that they are “not registered” and who believe they truly are registered, should definitely vote a provisional ballot so that their votes might be counted when better searches are done on their provisional ballots.
Worse yet, Sec. Husted last night released a Directive with a proposed search method for Boards of Elections to verify registration status on provisional ballots. In 2008, 18,860 of these were rejected as “not registered”. Yet Sec. Husted’s latest recommendations for search are entirely inadequate, likely to miss thousands of voters because of mis-spelling of names, variation in form of ID, failure to use all available tools for a reasonable search and other reasons (Details at www.nova-ohio.org). Once again, our warnings and suggestions, sent this morning, have gone unanswered. Unless this inadequacy is corrected, several thousand provisional ballots could be wrongfully rejected as “not registered”. If the election is close, this could be a source of endless legal battles. Once again, Cuyahoga County sets a model of best practices, because it will have poll workers record date of birth and address – powerful search items – for all provisional ballot voters.