Democrats Urge Sec. of State to Quit Fighting Over Provisional Ballots

Feb 16, 2012

There’s a problem commonly known as right church, wrong pew.  It’s when a voter goes to the right polling place but ends up casting a ballot in the wrong precinct. 

Democratic State Representative Kathleen Clyde blames that mistake for causing about 300 provisional ballots for a Hamilton County Judge’s races to not be counted.  For the past 15 months, Democrats have sued to have those ballots counted.  And in the most recent ruling a few days ago, a federal court agreed.  Clyde says it’s time to stop appealing the decision and start counting the ballots.

"Smart people, competent people, average people….we all make mistakes.  We now have a common sense way to deal with it with this court decision.  The decision says ballots cast in the right location but at the wrong precinct table must be counted because the most reasonable explanation for that is quote….because the staff or a poll worker made a mistake….unquote," says Clyde.

At the center of this debate is Tracie Hunter, the Democratic candidate for the juvenile judge’s position for which she is just a few votes short.  The fight over those uncounted ballots has dragged on for more than a year…..and in the meantime, her opponent has ended up on the bench anyway.

"Three months ago, the republican party found a way to cause my opponent to circumvent the system and he was appointed to the second juvenile court seat in Hamilton County while I continue to wait 15 months for those voters to be counted," says Hunter.

Hunter might be waiting even longer.  The Hamilton County Board of Elections came up with a tied vote on whether to appeal the most recent ruling….and that means it’s up to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to decide whether to appeal the federal court order.  Democratic State Representative Alicia Reece is urging Husted to allow the votes to be counted.

"There has been other appeals that have costs the taxpayers of Hamilton County and who will also have to pay more if this procedure goes forward.  We also have people who are becoming disillusioned with t he system who are saying 'I go in to vote, I cast my vote but will my vote be counted?" says Renee.

So what does Secretary of State Husted plan to do? 

"We are going to review the matter once we have all of the information from the board.  And we will make a decision based on a legal analysis of the issue and not based on a political press conference," says Husted spokesman Matt McClelland.