November 4th, 2008
03:52 PM ET
14 years ago

I.D. standards prove confusing in Cincinnati

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="A voter in Cincinnati sits while filling out his ballot because all of the official voting stations were full."]
CINCINNATI, Ohio (CNN) - Some judges at polling precincts in Ohio were issuing provisional ballots in error because they were confused about whether state drivers' licenses with outdated addresses could be used as proof of identification, Hamilton County Board of Elections Director Sally Krisel confirmed Tuesday.

"They are nervous, so they have them vote by provisional ballot," Krisel said of the judges who were not aware of an Ohio law that mandates that drivers' licenses can be used as proof of identification and address, even if the address does not match the voter's current address.

Cuyahoga County Board of Elections Community Outreach coordinator Kim Bartlett says the same thing is occurring in her county.

"If I move, I'm not required to get a new drivers license with a new address, she explained Tuesday. "Licenses are good for four years, even if they don't have a valid address, its still considered valid proof of ID."

Both the Hamilton County and Cuyahoga County Board of Elections say they were engaged in outreach efforts throughout election day to explain the rules on provisional ballots to confused poll workers.

Ohio State University law professor said he had also heard some complaints about voters being forced to use the provisional ballot but it was too early to tell if this was a systematic, statewide problem.

"Ohio's provisional voting laws are unbelievably complicated, he added. "There are 14 separate reasons why a voter should vote on a provisional ballot. I'm a law professor and I can't keep them in my head. We can't expect poll workers to implement these rules flawlessly."

Provisional ballots are issued in Ohio when a voter's identity cannot be verified because the voter does not have proper identification, no identification, or is using the last four digits of the social security number as proof of identification. Voters with an address change or name change are also required to vote by provisional ballot. Voters are required to provide proof of identification within ten days of the election, according to Krisel.

The ballots were mandated by Congress to ensure that no voter would be turned away from a polling place due to lack of identification. However, provisional ballots are normally counted after all official ballots are recorded, and are contestable. Experts say they could be decisive in a close race.

Krisel assured Ohio voters Tuesday that "all ballots will be counted" even if they were provisional.

But Democratic watchdog group, the Advancement Project, remained concerned.

"We are observing an excessive use of provisional ballots, and are wondering why," said lawyer Sheila Thomas on Tuesday. Candice Hoke of Cleveland State University's Center for Election Integrity said the reason could lie in problems with the voter databases themselves.

"Problems with voter registration records in database are leading to higher rates of provisional ballots than should be occurring."

Her monitors had received complaints that some voters had found themselves dropped from voter rolls due to hiccups with the voter registration databases that are not subject to federal certification systems for accuracy or security. They were therefore forced to vote by provisional ballot as well.

Updated 3:52pm

Filed under: Ohio • Voter Problems
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. We're Screwed '08

    Who cares? No matter who you vote for, no matter whether your vote gets counted or not...


    November 4, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  2. Michael in Houston

    Rick, quit making up stories. Just because you keep hitting copy/paste does not mean that yourignorance will be believed as the truth. You should have learned Rick from your boy McCain that making up stories does not sit well with America. Well it does not make a difference anyway, there are more of us who love Obama than of you who hate the color of his skin. Okay Rick your turn, on the count of 3...............1.................2..................3..............President Obama, now don't you feel all warm and fuzzy inside Rick? You betcha (wink)

    November 4, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  3. Gary

    This will always happen as long as every individual precinct and municipality is in charge of its local voting. There will be pockets of undereducated and underfunded locales that will continue to underwhelm when it comes to voting day performance.

    Can we some day get an internet-based voting system?

    November 4, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  4. newlander

    STOP race baiting "Rick". Won't work this time. 6 hours until real change....can you feel it?

    November 4, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  5. David for Obama

    Good-bye and good riddance, Republicans.

    November 4, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  6. cj

    My mother, in a nursing home in Ohio, wasn't even asked for ID when people showed up to take her ballot. It's a small town (10,000) , but I still think procedures should be followed, shouldn't they??

    November 4, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  7. Shari, NY

    I have to piggy back on another person's blog. America is all over the place as observers of third world country elections but we here at home have the nuts and bolts falling off our machinery. Can we get Mother England to police us since she did a great favor in sacrificing some of her sons in the Iraq invasion?

    November 4, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  8. Haters

    It sad how corrupt this country is; they will do anything to keep this man from winning. This country should go down in history as the biggest hypocrite and fraudulant country in the world. This country shouldn't never open their mouth to another country about injustice when it is the biggest injustice in the world.

    Maybe we should give white America their country and see if they can survive without miniorities.

    November 4, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  9. JL

    Thank you for being so thorough today, CNN. I have been critical of your election coverage for about the last month, but think that by exposing these issues, you are strengthening our democracy. Thank you.

    November 4, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  10. Rick

    I'm Rick, and little rick you're an idiot. What's your source, the Drudge Report? Get used to the idea of losing PA.

    November 4, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  11. Erin

    RE: Jude

    First of all, we are amazingly priveleged to have the opportunity to vote. Many nations either don't have public elections, the voters votes aren't actually counted, or there are extremely limiting rules on who can and who cannot vote.

    There are bound to be some kinks when you have millions of voters, especially when the turnout is as high at is in this election.

    P.S. it is "Come on" not "common" – a bit confusing 🙂

    November 4, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  12. dculver

    I am just curious in the land of the free and home of the brave-why we have such onesided coverage of the most important presidential election in history. Only in America can you have the type of election we have today but one would think that there is only one person running-Barack Obama. The McCain Palin ticket has not gottten the coverage you have given to Obama. Regardless of my vote I believe EVERY candadite is worthy of equal coverage.According to the press the election has been won but not buy a long shot. As Americans we need to remember anything is possible and that there is a higher power in charge-the American people. As for polls I for one have never been asked my opinion so I think your press should be equal. my family is split down the midle but the one sided coverage has DEFIN ITELY hurt the Obama campaign in my view. It changed my vote to the McCain -Palin ticket. So be FAIR CNN Sincerely, A CN supporter.

    November 4, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  13. Jim

    Jude – While I generally agree with your post, some problems are unknown until you show up for election. I went to vote today and when I arrived, I was told I was an "inactive" voter. I found this odd since my wife and I have voted at every election since we were married. She had no problems with her status but I did. Resolving this was simple in my case, but I could see where it could cause problems for others, especially in the busier polling locations.

    November 4, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  14. DC-African in Colorado Springs, Colorado

    They weren't properly trained then.

    November 4, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  15. arc, Lugano CH

    rick November 4th, 2008 2:20 pm ET
    Black Panthers are intimating to voters in Pa. Check it out on line
    McCain supporters hanging effigies of Senator Obama from trees in KY.

    Poor White Trash is going out of style in the United States of America.

    November 4, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
1 2 3