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Ohio Wins Delay in Order Over Provisional Ballot Count

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted won delay of a U.S. District Court ruling that a new state directive on the counting of provisional ballots risked denying citizens’ right to vote.

Husted, a Republican, issued a directive to county election officials on Nov. 2 requiring the rejection of a provisional ballot if the voter failed to record the type of identification used when casting the vote.

A labor union and a homeless advocates’ coalition asked U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley in Columbus, Ohio, to stop authorities from rejecting such ballots, citing an Ohio law that requires poll workers, not voters, to record the information. Marbley found on Nov. 14 that the rule “violates substantive due process,” and ordered the ballots counted where voters didn’t provide the type of identification.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati today granted the state’s motion to stay the lower court’s order pending an appeal, saying that the district court ruling “improperly expands the class of voters it was intended to cover and the types of provision ballot issues it was meant to address.”

Ohio officials ran a “smooth election” “despite the efforts of those who sought to create controversy where none existed,” and the ruling is “vindication,” Husted said in a statement.

‘Dramatic Departure’

“I am pleased that the court has once again ruled to uphold consistent standards and to maintain the integrity of Ohio’s elections process,” Husted said. “As the court correctly noted, plaintiffs and the lower court inaccurately portrayed Directive 2012-54 as a dramatic departure from prior policy and that to change the rules by which votes are counted after they have already been cast would compromise the interest of Ohio and the public in fair and orderly election procedures.”

The cases are Service Employees International Union, Local 1 v. Husted, 12-cv-00562, and Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, 06-cv-00896, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio (Columbus).

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