Friday, October 15, 2004


Blackwell loses first round on provisional ballots

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge James Carr ruled in favor of the Ohio and Sandusky Democratic Party. It appears that Carr wisely crafted a compromise that, on one hand, errs on the side of the the voter by granting them a provisional ballot if they appear at the wrong precinct. On the other hand, Carr's ruling will prevent possible voter fraud by not counting the vote in the jurisdiction where the voter shows up on election day.

In other words, a provisional voter that is confirmed to be a registered voter will have his or her vote counted for federal office purposes (e.g., the presidency, congress and the senate) but the vote won't be counted if there is a local liquor license up for a vote in that precinct.

That's seems pretty fair.

But not to Sect. of State Ken "I stand on principle" Blackwell. Blackwell has announced that he intends to appeal the decision.

Carr's decision is available from the OSU Moritz Law School. Edward Foley, from the school, noted that Carr's decision was far different than a federal judge just ruled on in Missouri. Foley had this to say about the Ohio decision:
[Carr] could not have been clearer in its determination: “HAVA permits provisional voting for federal offices in any precinct in the county in which the voter is registered.” . . . According to the court, after the poll worker has informed the voter that his or her proper precinct is elsewhere, it is the voter’s choice under HAVA whether to go to the other polling place, so as to be able to cast valid votes in “down-ballot” races (for state and local offices), or instead insist on voting a provisional ballot at the incorrect precinct, which will count only in the statewide federal races. “HAVA does not take this choice from the voter.”

I have to doubt that these two conflicting federal court decisions will not be allowed to stand in contradiction. Look for new rulings before Nov. 2. I have to think Foley's guess as to the thinking in the appeals court is right: ". . . it is more important that it be settled definitively than it be decided correctly."


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