NVRI E-News Alert: July 28, 2005

Challenging Ohio's Election System - "This System Needs Reform Now"

Dear Friends,

The problem has been building for decades. Today, NVRI joined our colleagues at other leading voting rights organizations in a historic lawsuit pressing Ohio to fix their broken election system. The non-partisan lawsuit, filed on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the League of Women Voters of Toledo-Lucas County, and more than a dozen Ohio citizens, seeks to redress decades-old Constitutional defects in the way Ohio conducts federal elections. If successful, the suit would require the state to repair the problems at all stages of the electoral process. The suit was announced at simultaneous press conferences in Columbus and Toledo.

Among the deficiencies:
  • Thousands of Ohioans unable to vote in November 2004 because lines in many precincts were more than two hours - and up to nine hours - long
  • Thousands of voters casting provisional ballots in 2004, only to have them thrown out when poll workers failed to advise that the voter was standing in the wrong precinct line
  • More than one third of precincts in Miami County running out of ballots in the November 2001 election
  • 3,556 Cuyahoga County votes in the November 2000 election that were processed twice, causing a computer to throw them out
  • Thousands of Cincinnati and Franklin County voters arriving at their regular polling places during the 2000 election, only to find they were no longer polling places or no longer their polling places
  • Registered voters in Franklin County in 2000 who were not able to vote because their names had been purged from voting lists or because the Bureau of Motor Vehicles had failed to process their registration cards
  • Dozens of precincts in Cuyahoga County running out of Republican ballots during the March 2000 primary, forcing them to turn registered voters away
  • Franklin County's registration rolls containing tens of thousands of erroneous entries in 1999
  • In 1998 and 1996, the registration rolls in Cuyahoga County containing tens of thousands of duplicate and inaccurate entries
  • Thousands of legitimate votes in Franklin County in 1998 that were counted for the wrong candidate due to wrongly programmed electronic voting machines
  • The fundamental failure to adequately hire and train election workers since at least 1994, resulting in unfilled positions and untrained, first-time workers at polling places
  • Identical breakdowns in elections in 1971 and 1972 in Hamilton and Cuyahoga counties that included disenfranchisement of thousands of voters because dozens of precincts never opened or opened late; failure to deliver an adequate number of voting machines to precincts; misprogramming of voting machines; distribution of incorrect ballots; lack of adequate staffing; and failure to train poll workers
"Long lines, inadequate facilities for voting, registrations that are not processed on time, and absentee ballots that never arrive have deprived far too many Ohioans of the right to vote for far too long. The system needs reform now," said NVRI's Managing Attorney Brenda Wright.

The lawsuit is not connected to NVRI's ongoing effort to clarify Ohio's recount procedures.

NVRI is proud to stand alongside Ohio voters, and our colleagues at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the law firms of Proskauer Rose LLP, Arnold & Porter LLP, and Connelly, Jackson & Collier LLP, the People for the American Way Foundation, and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area.

To read the full press release, click here.
To review the complaint, click here.


Stuart Comstock-Gay
Executive Director
National Voting Rights Institute