Two Democratic state lawmakers are questioning a review by local county election boards of 135 instances of voter suppression during the 2012 presidential election.
They want to know why the review released by Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted does not include the thousands of incidences of voter suppression they've uncovered. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports.
Democratic State Representative Kathleen says Secretary of State Jon Husted’s recent report left out some important information. She says Husted outlined the 135 possible cases of voter fraud that occurred in the November 2012 election but didn’t mention anything about the thousands of possible cases of voter suppression she and fellow Democrats have discovered in their own investigation.
Clyde - The toll free 866 Our Vote National hotline run by the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights based in Washington D.C. received 2,749 calls from Ohioans on Election Day to address concerns by Ohio voters. Many of these calls were to report incidences of voter suppression such as misapplication of i.d. requirements, voters missing from the rolls, machine failures and errors made by poll workers in response to these problems. There were at least 680 incidences reported that could be considered voter suppression. Why weren’t these a part of Secretary of State Husted’s investigation?
Clyde notes more than 34 thousand provisional ballots were rejected and she says many of those were due to poll worker error. And she says Secretary of State Husted made the 2012 general election more confusing than it needed to be by appealing all the way to the top the court decision that eventually allowed voting on the weekend before the election. Clyde says the bottom line is the secretary of state’s office should make elections as simple as possible….and she says Husted hasn’t done that. A woman who’s widely believed to want to run for Husted’s job next year, yet hasn’t announced, agrees there were indeed cases of voter suppression due to confusion, poll worker error and purposeful intimidation. Democratic State Senator Nina Turner says Husted’s investigation raises red flags for her.
Turner - Investigate both sides of the spectrum but just don’t have a cavalier attitude and come out and say “yea, we’ve got some cases of voter fraud but oh my God, no cases of voter suppression.” Zero…that should have triggered a bill…well it did for us too. Zero? Something is wrong with that.
Secretary of State Jon Husted stands by his report. He says his information came from bipartisan local boards of election and he adds there weren’t any cases of voter suppression reported.
Husted – The report we issued a couple of weeks ago was based on a directive that I sent to all 88 county boards of elections. Those boards were asked to investigate all cases of fraud and suppression. And they were to refer all substantiated cases to local law enforcement for further investigation or prosecution. The bipartisan board sent their individual reports to us and we compiled it. So those bipartisan boards indicated there were 135 cases of fraud and zero cases of suppression.
As far as his decision to appeal the court ruling that allowed weekend voting the weekend before the election, Husted says he was just doing his job. He says he was upholding the intent of the Ohio legislature.
Husted-But Jo, that was a bill that was passed by Democrats….by the very Democrats who are complaining that I appealed it….they are the ones who voted for it. They can’t do both. They can’t vote for a law when they thought it was convenient to do so but then complain when the Secretary of State who has the obligation to uphold that law defends it in court. Frankly, their hypocrisy is puzzling to me.
The law that originally wiped out weekend voting the weekend before the election did not have Democratic support. In fact, that law was later repealed by lawmakers after Democrats threatened to put the law on the ballot so voters could repeal it. But there was another bill that dealt with veteran voting that passed with Democratic support…and it addressed weekend voting but Democrats have always questioned the application of that part of the law.