NE Coal. for the Homeless v. Husted, No. 12-4069 (6th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Ohio requires that provisional ballots be cast in the correct precinct, with a completed voter affirmation, making no exception for wrong-precinct and deficient-affirmation ballots caused by poll-worker error, O.R.C. 3505.183(B)(4)(a)(ii)–(iii) and (B)(4)(b)(ii). A 2010 consent decree required the counting of certain wrong-precinct and deficient-affirmation provisional ballots where poll-worker error caused the nonconformity and the voters used the last four digits of their social security number for identification to cast their ballots. The ballot of a provisional voter using any other form of identification (e.g., current photo identification, current utility bill, paycheck) would not be counted.The district court denied a motion to vacate the decree and entered a preliminary injunction requiring the counting of all wrong-precinct and deficient-affirmation provisional ballots to remedy systemic exclusion of nonconforming ballots caused by poll-worker error. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the wrong-precinct remedy and reversed the deficient affirmation remedy and remanded for the district court to address the equal protection issue created by the consent decree’s provision for counting deficient-affirmation ballots by voters providing social security numbers, and a motion to modify the consent decree in light of the equal protection concerns raised by the consent decree’s differential treatment of provisional ballots.