A few days before the election, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted ordered local election officials to reject ballots with mistakenly recorded identification information – even though the courts previously issued an order against this. Immediately following the election and with tens of thousands of ballots uncounted, Secretary Husted continued his crusade to change the rules for counting provisional ballots by issuing a directive excusing poll workers from correcting improper ballot forms, potentially invalidating many of the uncounted ballots.
Ohio members of the African American Ministers Leadership Council urged Secretary Husted to drop his attempt, with Reverend Tony Minor stating:
Every single person who shows up to vote on Election Day should be confident that their vote will be counted and their voice will be heard. Secretary Husted is trying to throw up last-minute barriers in an effort to stop some of these votes from counting. That’s undemocratic and unacceptable.
The last-minute changes were denied by U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley because they violated the Constitution and Ohio election law. But Secretary Husted appealed the decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and was allowed to go forward with the last-minute changes. The decision could result in thousands of Ohioans’ (who waited for hours outside poll stations) votes not counting. It also lays the legal groundwork for voter suppression in future elections. On top of it all, Secretary Husted has been promoting the idea of dividing Ohio’s electoral votes by congressional district in the future, making it possible – due to gerrymandering – that the loser of the popular vote in Ohio would nevertheless win the majority of the state’s electoral votes.
These recent events epitomize the attempts by certain state legislators to suppress the vote over the past two years, underscoring the continued importance of ensuring equality and the right to vote for all.