Judge Halts Ohio Law That Could Discount Votes

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

A judge has given Ohio unions a preliminary injunction stopping a new state law that could endanger provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct, even if the cause is poll worker error.


It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish


And I'm Melissa Block.

A federal judge has put the breaks on an Ohio law that threatened to discount thousands of votes in a state that's key to the presidential race. The judge says the law could infringe on the constitutional rights of voters who cast provisional ballots in the wrong precincts because of mistakes by poll workers.

NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: When it comes to voting rights, Ohio is never a simple story. Because of the 2006 law and a court precedent in the state, people who use provisional ballots to vote and who are misdirected to the wrong precinct or make technical errors will have their ballots thrown out, even if the mistakes are the fault of poll workers not the voters.

That's a big deal because Ohio voters in recent elections cast more than 100,000 provisional ballots. In 2008, the state threw out 14,000 of them because of errors. The Service Employees International Union and other groups say that's not fair. They sued to stop enforcement of the law before the November elections.

Today, a federal judge in Ohio agreed. The judge issued a preliminary injunction, ruling the law could disenfranchise thousands of Ohio voters and deprive them of their equal protection and due process rights under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

Ohio State University law professor, Dan Tokaji, says the court ruling could cast a long shadow.

DAN TOKAJI: In a close race, provisional ballots can make the difference between defeat and victory.

JOHNSON: A spokesman for Ohio's Secretary of State told NPR, he respectfully disagrees with the ruling and said the state is likely to appeal. Carrie Johnson, NPR News, Washington.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from