Posted: October 17, 2008
New Ohio Suit Seeks to Block Absentee Ballots Without Checks
According to this front-page report in the Columbus Dispatch, a new lawsuit filed in the Ohio Supreme Court seeks an order that would prevent local boards of elections throughout Ohio from processing or counting absentee ballots unless and until they are first checked against the "mismatches" that the Secretary of State discovered when comparing voter registration information with motor vehicle information. With respect to any absentee ballot cast by a voter whose registration record is a "mismatch", the lawsuit asks the court to further require the local boards to verify the voter's eligibility. What this suit seeks, therefore, goes beyond what had been requested--and denied--by the U.S. Supreme Court in Ohio Republican Party v. Brunner. (That federal-court lawsuit had sought only a requirement that the Secretary of State share the "mismatch" information with the local boards.) The new case, a direct "mandamus" action in the Ohio Supreme Court, is named State ex. rel. Mahal v. Brunner (2008-2027). The court has ordered the parties to submit all briefs and evidence by Friday, October 24. Starting the day after, county boards are entitled under state law to begin the processing of absentee ballots, including removing them from their envelopes and thus irretrievably including them in the pool of all ballots to be counted (after which a particular ballot no longer could be extracted if it were subsequently determined the particular ballot was not entitled to be counted).