Voting Rights Press Release

10.31.14

Voter Who Provided Utility Bill as ID Denied Absentee Ballot by Franklin County Board of Elections

ACLU of Ohio Concerned Other Ohioans Being Denied

(COLUMBUS, OHIO)— The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio is investigating a complaint from a Franklin County voter who was denied an absentee ballot despite providing a utility bill for identification with the application, according to Senior Policy Director Mike Brickner. Under Ohio law, a utility bill, government check, paycheck, military identification, or other government identification are accepted forms of voter ID.

“We asked the Franklin County Board of Elections to look into the situation as we are concerned about the extent of the problem,” Brickner said. “It may have happened to others who provided an acceptable form of ID with their absentee ballot requests.”

The voter in question, who submitted an absentee ballot application in mid-September, received a letter from the Franklin County Board of Elections stating that her request for an absentee ballot could not be processed because she had failed to give her driver’s license, a state ID number, nor the last four digits of her social security number. After numerous communications with the board of elections and the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, the voter finally received her absentee ballot more than a month after she mailed her application.

Many Ohio voters do not have a driver’s license or state ID, and many others are uncomfortable sending the last four digits of their Social Security number through the mail. Requiring any voter to provide a driver’s license, state ID number or last four digits of their social security number disregards state law.

“This voter was simply following the rules, but still denied her absentee ballot for over a month,” Brickner said. “Delays like these only hurt the voter as adequate time is needed to fill out and return the absentee ballot by mail. Hopefully, this issue is not widespread, but we need to know if this has happened to other voters, not only in Franklin but other counties as well.”

Given the close proximity of the Nov. 4 election, any voter who sent in an alternate form of ID with their absentee ballot application, and was either denied or not mailed an absentee ballot by their board of elections, is encouraged to cast their ballot in person. They can vote early this weekend or on Monday at their local board of elections, or go to polls on Tuesday, Election Day. Explain the situation and be sure to bring an acceptable form of ID.

Visit the ACLU of Ohio’s Vote Center for voting information at www.acluohio.org/vote. Voters who experience a problem casting their ballots may email contact@acluohio.org, or call (216) 472-2200.