COLUMBUS — A new Associated Press report found that, in 2018, 21 counties in Ohio denied more than 6,500 absentee ballot requests citing the reasons of missing or mismatched signatures, while 12 other counties reported zero rejected absentee ballot applications — a troubling finding that mirrors a 2016 Reuters report that found disparities between urban and rural counties in how absentee and provisional ballots are counted.
“Ohio Republicans have put in place one barrier after another for voters, and this report is just the latest example of how they have made it harder for Ohioans to cast a ballot and have that ballot counted,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “What we found in our case against former Secretary of State Jon Husted was that lawfully registered Ohioans had their votes thrown out because of minor, technical mistakes with their absentee or provisional ballot paperwork, and the laws governing whether to accept an absentee or provisional ballot are enforced differently depending on what county a voter lives in. In 2014, thousands of ballots were tossed out, and more than half of those rejected ballots came from urban counties. Keep in mind — these voters have already proven their identity when they apply for an absentee ballot, so these additional requirements are unnecessary and function as a kind of modern-day literacy test for voters.
“Now we’re learning that thousands of voters in the 2018 election may not have been able to vote at all because their absentee ballot applications were rejected because of paperwork issues. There is no evidence that a single incident of voter fraud has been prevented by the bureaucratic hurdles created by the Ohio GOP — but we now have evidence that thousands have had their right to vote endangered or taken away because Ohio’s election laws are enforced differently depending on where they live.”
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