Election Law

In Second Loss for Ohio in Election Disputes, 6th Circuit Upholds Counting of Wrong-Precinct Ballots


A federal appeals court based in Cincinnati has ruled that Ohio must count ballots cast in the wrong precinct but the right polling place.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (PDF) that the ballots should count if poll workers caused the error, report the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, the Associated Press, the Washington Post and Bloomberg.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs praised the ruling on so-called “right church, wrong pew” ballots. Ohio’s secretary of state “has been taking the completely indefensible position that when a government worker blunders, our votes should be sacrificed,” said lawyer Subodh Chandra of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless. “The 6th Circuit saw right through that and said ‘No, he’s wrong.’ ”

Ohio is seeking U.S. Supreme Court review of a different 6th Circuit ruling involving election law. The appeals court had blocked a law that allowed members of the military, but not other voters, to cast ballots the weekend before the election. Early voting should be allowed for all voters, the court said. Ohio argues the distinction is permissible because members of the military could be deployed at any time, the Washington Post wrote in a prior story.

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