November 5th, 2012
09:48 PM ET
10 years ago

Ohio secretary of state defends election decisions

Washington (CNN) - As the eyes of the nation look at Ohio, the state's chief elections official is defending some of his decisions, which have been met with criticism. One of the moves Jon Husted made was to send all 7 million registered voters in the state an application for an absentee ballot instead of waiting for those who wanted one to ask.

The letter sent on August 31 said, "Most voters will choose to cast their ballots in the way Ohioans have done it for more than 200 years – visiting their local polling place on Election Day. As a registered voter, you also have the opportunity to vote through the mail from the privacy of your own home."

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Some of those who received those letters said they thought they were an attempt to discourage early voting in the state. However, the spokesman for the secretary of state, Matthew McClellan, denied that was the motivation, saying his office "worked hard to make voting uniform," give all residents the same opportunity and "same level of access."

One problem the state elections officials may now encounter is that if some of those who requested the absentee ballots try to vote on Tuesday they will be given a provisional ballot, one that will later need to be certified for its authenticity.

As of Monday evening, 1.195 million of the 1.3 million absentee ballots that had been requested had been returned.

"We believe that the vast majority of those have been sent in. We have a small number that will not arrive by election night, but we believe that it won't be a huge number and only if the race is razor thin close will that come into play," Husted told CNN's "Erin Burnett Outfront" on Monday night.

Husted predicted around 200,000 provisional ballots will be cast on Election Day. Voters get those ballots for various reasons: if they requested an absentee ballot but then try to vote on Election Day, if they do not bring an ID, if someone did not update his or her address, or if someone goes to the wrong precinct. Four years ago, just more than 200,000 people voted using provisional ballots in Ohio. By state law they cannot be counted until 10 days after the election.

Another controversy has been Husted's directive that voters – not poll workers - fill out some of the information printed on the back of the provisional ballot when it is filed, including the last four digits of the voter's Social Security number and the identification that was provided.

"The bottom line is that (Husted) designed a form that violates Ohio law by improperly shifting to voters the poll workers' information-recording responsibilities regarding ID to voters and then he wants to trash votes where there is a problem," Cleveland attorney Subodh Chandra, who filed a legal challenge to Husted's decision, told The Columbus Dispatch.

Husted said he was following the law. "If I was a voter, I would want to have control of casting my ballot, making sure the information is correct. I wouldn't want that taken out of my hand and given to a poll worker," Husted told CNN's Erin Burnett. There is a court hearing scheduled later this week on the issue.

Husted, a Republican, had previously come under fire for trying to limit the duration of early voting in the state. Federal courts intervened, directing the state to offer more days than the state had planned.

"I made sure that the rules were the same in all 88 counties because in the past counties would vote by different sets of rules. I made them uniform," he said. "People should be reassured that what I'm going to is administer the law of the state of Ohio and run the elections according to that law."

Officials from the Obama and Romney campaigns said they would be ready to file legal challenges if need be in Ohio and elsewhere.

"We are going to watch those ballots closely. We want to make sure that everybody's voice is heard in this election," senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod told Soledad O'Brien Tuesday morning on CNN's "Starting Point."

For its part, a Romney campaign official told CNN "we're paying attention" and "we'll be ready" if there is a need for a legal intervention in Ohio or anywhere else.

- CNN Political Reporter Shannon Travis contributed to this report

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Filed under: 2012 • Ohio
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. MgH

    This guy disgusts me.

    November 5, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  2. pcalif

    Husted and Gov Kasich of OH will meet with Romney tomorrow. They'll let him know how the effort to throw OH is turning out. Romney is doing the same in PA.

    November 5, 2012 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  3. independent

    What a disgusting person and a disgraced party. Voter suppression is wrong.

    November 5, 2012 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  4. clarke

    Gee, voting used to fun and easy. What ever happened to the good old days of honest?

    November 5, 2012 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  5. pegpundi

    HUSTED needs to be recalled. Voter suppression at it's worst. He and his republican radicals have tried every way they know how to disenfranchise Ohio voters from voting; especially those who would obviously have boted Democrat. I think Americans, Ohioans, Floridians, Wisconsinites, Nevadans and any other state, should look at the voter suppression leaders and recall them from office. It's the American thing to do to protect your rights.

    November 5, 2012 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  6. Christian

    Regardless of which party you belong to, the poor choices made by partisan players in Ohio and Florida should disturb you.
    If states are unable to make voting hours fair and uniform for everyone, it should become a federal responsibility. People should not have to wait 7 hours to vote because some party hack decided to cut the voting hours in order to benefit his friends. In the end, it looks bad for everyone, and it should make everyone ashamed.

    November 5, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  7. Azzy

    Jon Husted has done everything he could to manipulate the voting process for his party over his state, the country, or basic integrity. He is a villian.

    November 5, 2012 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  8. wwf

    Do you smell what they are cooking in Ohio and every other state wher the GOP has control, such as Florida.

    November 5, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  9. Woman In California

    Make no mistake about it, people don't like to be lied to and taken for granted, and you Husted will be yet another racist creep who will reap what you sowed to the people of Ohio. The disgusting way you are treating minorities in your state is ugly, mean and distasteful and the whole world is watching you and your buddies, and will cheer real loud tomorrow night as you go DOWN in defeat NEVER to be in a position to suppress votes again.

    Go Ohio and go President Obama!

    November 5, 2012 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  10. Getoverit

    Voter suppression! Voter suppression! Waaaaaaah!

    November 5, 2012 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  11. SafeJourndy

    Jon Husted is responsible for the Loooooooooong lines for voting. For repubs and Dems

    November 6, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  12. stars

    This guy need to go to jail. Please lock him up and he never see the light of day ever.

    November 6, 2012 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  13. Marry

    Any action that makes sure that every voter is taken seriously and is supported in making their vote count is a good action! We have seen the GOP trying to suppress the vote with all kind of tricks. Wonder why…

    November 6, 2012 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  14. LizardLance

    You can bet your bottom dollar that if a Republican proposes it, then it's a bad idea for America. Republicans are all about control and taking away freedom. The Tea Party has turned it into a joke of a political party.

    November 6, 2012 05:50 am at 5:50 am |
  15. CraigM

    Just another group of government officials who inevitably know how to screw things up!!!

    November 6, 2012 06:09 am at 6:09 am |

    Voter suppression is all that the unhinged GOBP TEA POTTY have left. Desperation is so ugly.

    November 6, 2012 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  17. Wire Palladin, S. F

    Leave it to a republican voter suppressionist to defend the indefensible. He went to the Supreme Court to deny Americans the right to vote.

    November 6, 2012 07:02 am at 7:02 am |