Major Victory – Federal judge rules Ohio voters may cast provisional ballots

Toledo Blade (Ohio)

Federal judge rules Ohio voters may cast ballots at wrong polling place

TOLEDO — A federal judge here ruled today that Ohio voters who show up at the wrong polling place on Election Day can still cast ballots as long as they are in the county where they are registered.

U.S. District Judge James Carr issued a temporary injunction in a lawsuit filed Sept. 27 by the Ohio and Sandusky County Democratic parties against Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell.

The decision makes it easier for people to vote and blocks a directive from Mr. Blackwell, a Republican, that poll workers must send voters to their correct precinct.

“Denying any voter the right to a provisional vote will erode confidence in the election and lessen the incentive to vote,’’ Judge Carr wrote in his decision.

The state will file an immediate and expedited appeal with the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, Mr. Blackwell announced.

Judge Carr ordered Mr. Blackwell to file a directive that complies with the Help America Vote Act by 4 pm. Monday.

More than 100,000 provisional votes were cast in Ohio in the 2000 election — or about 2 percent of the total vote in the presidential election. President Bush defeated Democrat Al Gore in Ohio by 3.6 percentage points.

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