Voting Rights Press Release

01.03.08

Hasty Voting Directive Ensures Election Confusion

Read the letter presented to the Cuyahoga Board of County Commissioners at their January 3, 2008 meeting.

CLEVELAND–Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio condemned a directive from Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner that requires counties that currently use electronic voting machines to also provide paper ballots that do not provide notice of errors to the voter, also known as central count optical scan technology, for voters during the March 4, 2008 presidential primary election.

ACLU of Ohio Staff Counsel Carrie Davis said, “Requiring counties to offer two methods to cast one’s vote is a recipe for disaster. With little more than two months before the election, it poses a logistical and financial nightmare for counties where there were few elections problems before. This move will exacerbate confusion among poll workers and voters and will inevitably cause more Ohioans to be disenfranchised.”

“This compounds the already existing problems with the non-notice technology that Secretary of State Brunner is requiring. Voters will be unable to verify that their ballot is filled out correctly, leading to increased numbers of uncounted ballots,” Davis added.

Ohio adopted voting technology that provided notice to voters following the ACLU of Ohio’s successful lawsuit, Stewart v. Blackwell. The case challenged punch card and paper ballots that did not provide the voter with notification of problems with his or her ballot. These types of voting technology caused votes to be uncounted because the ballots were not clearly marked. Research has shown that if the voter is given an opportunity to correct his or her ballot, the number of uncounted votes greatly dissipates.

Davis concluded, “The directive by Secretary of State Brunner ensures that counties across Ohio will be mired in confusion. This order presents nothing short of disaster for any Ohioan hoping to cast their ballot in 2008.”