Dan Tokaji's Blog
Professor Dan Tokaji
Election reform, the Voting Rights Act, the Help America Vote Act, and related topics -- with special attention to the voting rights of people of color, non-English proficient citizens, and people with disabilities

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Equal Vote
Friday, December 3
 
Provisional Ballots Narrow Bush's Margin in Ohio . . . Slightly
The deadline for Ohio's counties to count provisional ballots and submit certified totals was Wednesday night. According to this report from the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Bush's margin of victory declined by about 18,000 votes after the counting of provisionals. Bush was ahead by about 136,483 on the morning of November 3, and he's now ahead by 118,443, most of the difference being the result of the counted provisional ballots. As I've noted previously (see here), Bush's margin of victory would have been insurmountable even if Kerry had gotten a much higher percentage of the counted provisionals than he actually did.

What remains unclear is whether there was any cross-county uniformity, in the standards for determining which provisional votes should count. Under the Help America Vote Act, provisional ballots must be counted if cast by voters determined eligible and registered to vote. The A.P. reports that, statewide, 121,598 of the 156,977 provisional ballots cast in Ohio were counted. That's about 77%.

Not yet reported are the county-by-county numbers, showing what percentage or provisionals were cast in each county. We also don't know what process the various counties were applying in determining whether a provisional ballot should be counted. Variations in either of these areas -- the percentage of provisionals counted or the process followed in validating provisionals -- will likely be very important to the pending claim in Schering v. Blackwell that Ohio's provisional voting system violates equal protection under Bush v. Gore.

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Moritz College of Law The Ohio State University