Brunner Issues Second Directive On Provisional Ballots
As discussed over the weekend, the Secretary of State issued a second directive to settle (for now) our lawsuit. There were two outstanding issues that were not covered in the directive issued Friday October 24. These issues include: what happens to a provisional ballot if the poll worker does not do their job or incorrectly completes the provisional ballot envelope? Also, what happens to the provisional ballot if a homeless person shows up and is using a non-traditional address like a park bench? The Associated Press and therefore other media have made a big deal out of this second piece, and made this seem like some "scandal" and our attempt to undermine the election. This "controversy" is bunch of people making a mountain out of a mole hill. All we settled on was that the state must uphold an existing law that dates back to Secretary of State Robert Taft. If a homeless person especially in areas that do not have enough shelters (Lorain, Ashtabula, Trumbull Counties), and has taken up residence in a tent or other structure, they should get to vote. These citizens want to vote, and this settlement allows them that opportunity. These voters would have already had to register that tent as a residence before October 6. They would most likely vote by provisional ballot, because their mail would have come back to the Board of Elections. All this settlement says is that those provisional ballots be counted in compliance with existing law.
I have to say that there are couple dozen people in the woods in Lorain County who fought for the United States in Viet Nam. These guys and their opinions about a government at war are effectively silenced without an exception to linking voting to a fixed structure. I raised these problems when the 2006 ID voting law was proposed in the legislature, but the leadership did not listen. Why shouldn't they have the opportunity to vote? I believe that they earned the right after sleeping in the rice fields in Southeast Asia and now the woods of Lorain County to decide who leads this country no matter if they live under a framed roof or not.
As an election observer in 2006, there were many problems with poll worker error and provisional ballots. The polling place I observed had around 34 people voting by provisional ballot and I saw half of those ballots incorrectly filled out by the poll worker. In fact, I think the first 15 did not have the poll worker's signature before they had a supervisor come to the polling place to give them instructions. This settlement clarifies that an individual should be allowed to have their provisional ballot counted even if the poll worker does not process the envelop correctly. This part of the settlement is the more important aspect of the agreement, but has received little attention. This entire settlement prevents a Florida-style "hanging chad" situation of mass confusion in a close election. The park bench provision will only have an impact on a couple of dozen people throughout the state, but the counting of the provisional ballot procedure could be the difference in a close election.
Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.