In a move that will no doubt please the Republicans, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, has sided with Ken Blackwell and reversed a lower court ruling that benefited Democrats and made fraud in Ohio easier.
A district court ruled that provision ballots should be counted if cast within a county, but the wrong precinct. This ruling prevented Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell from enforcing an election rule that mandated all provision ballots must be counted, but only if cast in a voter’s proper precinct without the voter, though registered, being on the list of registered voters.
The ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals supports an order issued by Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell. Democrats contend the Republican official’s rules are too restrictive and allege they are intended to suppress the vote.
Ohio Democrats were discussing in a conference call Saturday night whether to file an appeal in the case, one of the first major tests of how such ballots will be handled in a close election. Polls show that the race between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry in the key swing state is too close to call.
Federal judges in several states have issued varying rulings on the issue of provisional ballots, which are intended to be backups for eligible voters whose names do not appear on the rolls. Saturday’s ruling was the first time a federal appeals court has weighed in.
The state’s Democrats had filed a lawsuit challenging Blackwell’s directive instructing county elections boards not to give ballots to voters who come to the wrong precinct and to send them to the correct polling place on Election Day.
Given the problems with fraudulently obtained voter registrations in Ohio, this ruling will make fraud less likely and, therefore, should benefit the Republicans.