Posted: December 5, 2008
More on the Ohio Election Summit
Steve Hoffman, Akron Beacon Journal writer and panelist in Tuesday's summit, has this editorial. He specifically mentions the difference in provisional voting rates between Ohio and Missouri and the perception that Ohio's high rate makes it more prone to litigation in the weeks preceding and following election day. Ohio had a provisional voting rate this year of approximately 3.2% while Missouri's rate was 0.2%. Part of the difference could be accounted for by the fact that Missouri doesn't allow provisional ballots to be used on election day to change the voter's address. Address changes in Missouri have to be made prior to election day. In Ohio, provisional ballots have been used since the early 90's--long before HAVA--to allow voters to change their address on election day, but it is unclear what proportion of today's provisional voters fall into this category. Many panelists and commenters pressed for meaningful data to be gathered and reported by Ohio officials so that all interested parties can base their election policy debate on sound facts instead of emotions and anecdotes. While the use of provisional ballots to change an address is seen by some as an accomodation to voters, these provisional ballots can get caught up in unforeseen disputes such as whether the formal requirements for completing the ballot envelope have been satisfied. Voters can get tripped up by choosing to take advantage of a voting option that they may not realize will decrease the likelihood of their ballot being counted. EL@M has been monitoring progress in the lawsuit over ballot envelope formalities in Ohio's Franklin County. See the Skaggs case page here. The Ohio Supreme Court has not yet issued a decision.