Posted: April 30, 2012
Winner Declared in 2010 Ohio Judicial Election
Late Friday, Hamilton County Board of Elections officials completed their counting of approximately 300 disputed provisional ballots in a 2010 juvenile court judge election. The board's count resulted in a 71-vote victory for Democratic candidate Tracie Hunter, who had initially lost the election by 23 votes to Republican John Williams. In February, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott ordered the board to count the disputed ballots, finding that the board violated provisional voters' right to equal protection. The dispute centered on provisional ballots cast in the correct polling place, but at the wrong precinct table. Judge Dlott found that the board should have counted certain provisional ballots miscast due to poll worker error. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to stay the district court's order, triggering the counting of the provisional ballots. An automatic recount will begin May 7. An additional appeal to the Sixth Circuit appears likely to follow.
Further complicating matters is the mandamus action recently filed in the Ohio Supreme Court by two Ohio Republican legislators. The relators seek an order for the Secretary of State to rescind directives issued pursuant to a consent decree in the federal NEOCH v. Brunner case. The directives permit provisional ballots to be counted even if cast in the wrong precinct or if signature requirements are not fully complied with because of poll worker error.