Ohio's "Katherine Harris" strikes again


Mark Follman
November 3, 2004 4:00AM (UTC)

From the Toledo Blade today:

"Ohioans who requested absentee ballots but who have not yet received them will not be able to vote, according to a decree issued yesterday by Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell.

"He has told county boards of elections that those people may not vote a provisional ballot. And because they requested absentee ballots, they will not be allowed to vote at their regular polling place.

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"'These poor people,' said Bernadette Noe, chairman of the county elections board. She said they have received many calls from residents who applied for absentee ballots but never got them. 'I don't know how you remedy it,' she said. If people requested absentee ballots because they were leaving the area, she said, they couldn't cast a provisional vote by mail."

Blackwell's decree means that the popular margin in Ohio could turn out to be Bush v. Gore in Florida, times ten: "The county received 31,212 absentee ballot requests, and have so far received 25,445 completed ballots back from voters, board records show. The remaining 5,767 ballots must be returned to the board office by 7:30 tonight to be counted."

But if Zogby has it right, Blackwell will only be a footnote at the end of the day.

Update: Blackwell gets an 11th-hour smackdown from the feds. AP reports:

"Ohio voters who did not receive absentee ballots on time can cast provisional ballots at the polls, a federal judge in Toledo ruled Tuesday.

"The decision by U.S. District Court Judge David Katz reverses an earlier directive by Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell who said the voters could not cast provisional ballots despite not receiving their absentee ballots. Blackwell spokesman Carlo LoParo said he had no comment until he was able to read the ruling."

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Absentee ballot-less Ohio voters have 18-year-old college student Sarah White, and the San Francisco-based Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights, to thank.


Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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