COLUMBUS -- Two Democratic lawmakers said thousands of Ohioans were blocked from voting in the November general election, thanks to ballots that were improperly tossed, voters who were denied ballots and others who were discouraged from participating.
Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) and Sen. Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) released their findings in a report they said documents the instances of suppression. The new report comes in response separate findings issued by Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted that showed no instances of voter suppression in the presidential election.
"Today's report shows that voter suppression indeed plagued Ohio in 2012," Turner, Husted's likely Democratic challenger in 2014, said in a released statement. "The secretary can write his own narrative, but the people of Ohio know that the chief elections officer certainly was not trying to increase Ohioans' access to the polls, and here are the numbers to prove it."
The report from Clyde and Turner allege more than 34,000 denied provisional ballots, 13,000-plus denied absentee ballots and 2,188 voter suppression incidents "documented by Ohio voter protection lawyers."
"There are thousands of documented cases of voter suppression in the 2012 election," Clyde said. "It's the secretary of state's duty to investigate those, and we need to work together to identify the problem, call it a problem and then work to fix it."
Husted countered those assertions, however, saying he directed county elections boards to investigate all substantiated cases of voter fraud and suppression and report any claims that had merit to local law enforcement for prosecution.
The process resulted in more than 130 cases of voter fraud and zero cases of voter suppression.
"This is not an investigation I did," Husted said. "This is a bipartisan investigation conducted by all 88 county boards of elections. ... They made their decisions on a bipartisan basis."
Elections boards, he said, followed state law in determining the validity of voters' registrations and provisional and absentee ballots cast.
"Essentially, what's she's asking for is to count illegal ballots," Husted said of the Democratic lawmakers' voter suppression report and subsequent comments. "No board or the secretary of state will do that."
He added, "The rules are the rules. They've been tried in court. These decisions have been upheld. If they don't like the rules, then work to change the rules. But the majority of these ballots they're talking about were cast by people who were not registered to vote. That makes them illegally cast ballots, which we are prohibited by law from counting."
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter at ohiocapitalblog.