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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Tight Ohio Race Will Trigger Federal Lawsuit: Democrats Said Prepared For Court Fight Over Provisional Ballots

Al Franken had to lawyer up 
CINCINNATI (TDB) -- If the battle for governor or any other statewide races end up to close to call on election night, the Ohio Democratic Party plans to litigate to make sure all votes are tallied properly.  ODP will fight a legal battle in U.S. District Court -- most likely Cincinnati or Columbus -- to ensure that all 88 counties tabulate provisional ballots uniformly and use the same methods.  Democratic sources confirmed by e-mail within the last hour that the federal voting rights case would be filed in the Southern District of Ohio, which has U.S. judges located in Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton.  Provisional ballots are set aside and counted 10 days after the general election.  Independent statewide polls show Kasich and Strickland in a virtual dead heat.   If the election comes out that close, get ready for the lawyers.  The Columbus Dispatch reported today that the Dems were already seeking a federal court order:

"Yesterday, the Ohio Democratic Party filed a request for a federal court order to require county elections boards to provide voter addresses and other identifying information from provisional-ballot envelopes upon request."

The line appeared in Dispatch reporter Mark Niquette's long story that suggested a close race between Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland and Republican John Kasich could become a legal fight. However, if there was such a lawsuit already pending, it was not publicly available in the court clerk's offices Tuesday.  Other elections officials told The Daily Bellwether that the Ohio Democratic Party had written to local boards of elections trying to gain access to addresses and other info from provisional ballot envelopes.  Hamilton County had gotten one of the letters, and apparently turned down the ODP request.  Litigation in close elections is nothing new -- it took months for Minnesota officials to decide if Al Franken won that state's U.S. Senate seat in 2008.  Franken had a 312-vote margin that was recognized by the Minnesota Supreme Court nearly seven months after the election.  And everybody recalls Bush v. Gore and the U.S. Supreme Court 5-4 ruling that said George Bush won the presidency even though he lost the popular vote.

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