ACLU Asks Court To Allow Rejected Absentee Ballot Applications

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

James Freedland, ACLU national, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666; media@aclu.org
Mike Brickner, ACLU of Ohio, (216) 472-2220

ACLU

ACLU Asks Court To Allow Rejected Absentee Ballot Applications

Group Sides With Voters In “Check-Box” Dispute

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The
American Civil Liberties Union and the Brennan Center for Justice at
New York University School of Law filed a friend-of-the-court brief
today asking the Ohio Supreme Court to protect voters' rights and allow
rejected absentee ballot applications to be processed. The lawsuit was
brought by two Hamilton County voters who completed absentee ballot
request forms that were rejected because of an unchecked box.

On September 5, 2008, Secretary of
State Jennifer Brunner issued a memorandum instructing county Boards of
Elections not to process absentee ballot request forms that have an
unchecked box next to the signature of the voter, declaring him or her
to be a qualified elector. The forms with the box were sent to over
1,000,000 Ohio voters by the McCain campaign. The box is not required
by Ohio law to be included on the forms.

"This is a clear case of bureaucracy
hampering the rights of voters. The rejected forms included all of the
information that is required by Ohio law and the box that was left
unchecked is not even required to be on absentee ballot request forms.
It is unfair to require voters to submit additional forms over
meaningless technicalities that could prevent some from casting
ballots," said Carrie Davis, staff counsel with the ACLU of Ohio.

Over 1,500 absentee ballot request
forms were rejected in Hamilton County alone, with thousands more
voters affected throughout the state. Secretary Brunner requested that
county Boards of Elections contact all affected voters to inform them
they need to complete another form.

"With thousands of voters affected
across the state, it will be difficult for Boards of Elections to
contact each person directly. There will likely be people who do not
know their application was rejected, find out too late, cannot access
another form easily or become disillusioned with the process and won't
cast a ballot," said Meredith Bell-Platts, staff counsel with the ACLU
Voting Rights Project. "This type of political maneuvering presents an
undue burden on voters and violates their constitutional rights."

"County Boards of Elections would
require a great deal of resources to contact the thousands of voters
whose applications were unfairly rejected. This will expend precious
time and resources on a bureaucratic issue, while Boards of Elections
should be preparing to make sure Election Day is run as smoothly as
possible. The court should do the right thing and order these
applications to be processed," Davis added.

A copy of the ACLU's friend-of-the-court brief is available online at: www.aclu.org/votingrights/gen/37021lgl20081002.html

More information about the ACLU Voting Rights Project is available online at: www.votingrights.org

 

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