COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – An Ohio election official has testified in federal court that about a dozen Franklin County voters’ ballots in 2014 should have been counted but were thrown out.
William Anthony, director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, testified this week in Columbus that elections officials should have examined the ballots, The Columbus Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/1RnDjQJ) Thursday.
Anthony, who also is the Franklin County Democratic Party chairman, said in court that the county elections office must overhaul its procedures to ensure that valid ballots are not rejected. He later told the newspaper that the legitimate ballots were tossed out because of instructions provided by the state.
“It was not any fault of our people,” Anthony said. “They were backed into a corner. They could not approve them. And I think that’s a shame. … I just think the law needs to change.”
Anthony’s testimony came in a lawsuit brought by advocates for Ohio’s homeless and the state Democratic Party who allege problems with Ohio’s procedures for absentee and provisional ballots because of changes passed by the GOP-controlled state legislature. Gov. John Kasich, who is currently seeking the Republican nomination for president, signed the legislation into law in 2014.
Among other arguments, the plaintiffs allege that numerous ballots are being tossed because of paperwork errors.
The laws require voters to provide certain identifying information on their absentee ballot envelopes or provisional ballot affirmations, such as their address and date of birth. The plaintiffs argue certain restrictions within the law are equivalent to modern-day literacy tests for voters. They claim the provisions disproportionately burden minority voters and those who lean Democratic.
Attorneys for the state say the challenged laws are nondiscriminatory and impose minimal burden on voters.
Ryan Richardson, an attorney for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, said the acceptance rates for both provisional and absentee ballots actually increased once the laws became effective.
Voters who don’t provide adequate information to obtain a regular ballot are given provisional ballots.